In his book, Al-Fatwa Bayna al-indibat Wa-at-tasayyub, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following: “Lexically, the Arabic word fatwa means to give a satisfactory answer regarding a certain issue.
In the technical language of Shari`ah, the word fatwa clarifies the Islamic ruling in an answer given to question or a set of questions usually related to an Islamic issue. It does not make any difference whether the questioner is a person or a group of persons.
It stands to reason that fatwa is not an easy task, but rather an arduous one. This is because the one who commits himself to issuing fatwas acts on behalf of Allah’s Messengers and Prophets. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Scholars are the heirs of Prophets, and Prophets neither left behind dinars nor dirhams (Arab coins); rather they left knowledge. He who acquires knowledge has really gained something of great value.”
Both the Rightly-Guided Caliphs as well as all the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them all) used to show extreme caution before giving Fatwas. Sometimes, they’d completely decline from carrying out the process. They held deep respect for the person who did not hasten in delivering Fatwas. When asked about a certain religious issue, the Prophet’s Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all), used to forward Fatwas to one another, passing them around in an attempt to avoid shouldering the heavy responsibility of answering them.

Sometimes, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), when asked about certain matters, would decline to answer it until he asked Gabriel first. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), said: “He who issues Fatwas without having sound religious knowledge will bear the burden of the one to whom he issued a Fatwa.”
Imam Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the one nominated to hold the position of Mufti, should possess the following characteristics:
1. He should have a pure intention to guide the questioner and never to misguide him.
2. He should have deep insight, equanimity and tranquility.
3. He should have a firm religious background and deep knowledge.
4. In his capacity as a religious leader, the Mufti should have adequate means to earn his livelihood.
5. Finally, he should be aware of daily life and contemporary issues.”
Moreover, Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, adds:
“Not every individual has the right to issue Fatwas and make pronouncements on matters. A Mufti must be qualified and of profound knowledge. He has to be able to know the evidence, the wording and apparent meaning of the texts, what is Sahih (authentic) and what is Da`if (weak), An-Nasikh wal-Mansukh (the abrogating and the abrogated), what is specific in application and what is general, and what is stated in brief and what is mentioned in detail.
this needs lengthy experience and practice, knowledge of the various branches of Fiqh and where to look for information, knowledge of the opinions of the scholars and jurists, and memorization or knowledge of the religious texts. The Mufti should be knowledgeable and rich in life experience. We cannot imagine him to live in an ivory tower and turn a blind eye to life around him.
Undoubtedly, issuing Fatwas without having qualification to do so is a grave sin. Allah has warned us against that, saying: “And speak not, concerning that which your own tongues qualify (as clean or unclean), the falsehood: “This is lawful, and this is forbidden,’ so that ye invent a lie against Allah. Lo! Those who invent a lie against Allah will not succeed.” (An-Nahl: 116)”