Seeking and giving religious verdicts and opinions
Al-Fatwa linguistically: as is mentioned in ‘lisan ul Arab’: Aftaa’hu fil amri – gave him a legal opinion, clarified or explained it to him.
Al’Futyaa, al Futwaa, and al Fatwaa: is that which a jurist gives as a legal opinion Al istiftaa’a: means to seek or demand a ‘fatwaa’, as Allah says in the Quran: “They ask you for a religious verdict, Say: Allah instructs (the following) about the one who doesn’t have ascendents nor descendants…” (an Nisa’a 4:176)
Upon this the meaning of ‘al istiftaa’a is: to seek clarification of a religious ruling from the one who can clarify the ruling with the proofs and evidences from the Quran and Sunnah.
Al Fatwa technically: clarification of a religious ruling with proofs for the one who seeks it.
The ruling of ‘al istiftaa’a : it is obligatory upon every individual who needs or seeks clarification of an issue, because Allah says: “So ask the people of the reminder if you do not know” (al Anbiya 21:7)
And as the Prophet Muhammad said from the narration of Jabir ibn Abdullah who said: ‘We were traveling and one of the men was hit with a stone which injured his head, then this man had a wet dream, so this man asked his companions: ‘do any of you find a concession for me to make ‘tayummum’? So they replied: ‘We do not find any concession for you, and you have water.’ So the man took a bath, then he died. So when these people came back to the Prophet they informed him what had occurred and the Prophet replied: ‘They killed him! May Allah kill them, if they only asked, for verily the cure for ignorance is asking questions.’
Also the ruling of ‘al Fatwa’: It is a collective duty, it is obligatory that there exists someone from amongst the Muslims who gives religious verdicts concerning their issues and occurrences.
Allah says: ‘And it is not proper for the believers to go out to fight all together. Of every group of them, a party of them should go out, that they who are left behind may be taught their religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware of evil.” (At Tawbah 9:122)
And Allah says: ‘And remember when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) to make the news of the coming of the Prophet Muhammad and religious knowledge known clear to mankind, and not to hide it, but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And indeed what they bought is worse.’(al Imran 3:187)
Giving religious verdicts is very dangerous, if the jurist or one giving verdicts does not fulfill it’s rights then his destruction is ominous, because verily he is – as previously mentioned by Ibnul Qayimm-signing or endorsing on behalf of Allah the Most Magnificent.
Muhammad ibn Munkadir said: ‘Verily the scholar is between Allah and His creation, so he must observe as to how he interacts and goes between them.’
Ibnus Salah said regarding ‘Allah’s saying: “And do not say concerning that which your tongues pronounce falsely: ‘This is lawful and this is forbidden, so as to invent lies upon Allah. Verily, those who invent lies upon Allah will never prosper-a passing brief enjoyment they will experience, but they will have a painful torment.” (an Nahl 16:116-117)
“This is comprehensive, meaning that the one who deviates or strays in giving religious verdicts, saying that the prohibited things are permissible or the permissible things are prohibited and similar to that.”
Taken from the shaykhs book – Al ‘I’tibaa’a And The Principles Of Fiqh Of The Righteous
 (TN) al-Istiftaa’a: seeking a religious verdict, al Fatwa: giving a religious verdict
 Abu Dawud narrated this hadeeth on the authority of Ataa’a from Jabir pg 59-60 Book of Purification, Chapter: the injured one making Tayammum. #336 , also Ibn Majah on the authority of Ataa’a from Ibn Abbaas pg.112-113 Chapter: Regarding the injured person who becomes sexually impure and who fears harm for himself if he bathes… and both of the chains of narration are ‘Hasan’.
 ad Daramee 1/52 and 1/8 in another printing with an authentic chain of narra<on up until Muhammad ibn Munkadir, and Ibnus Salah mentioned it in ‘Kitab al Fatwaa’ pg.65
 Kitab al Fatwaa by ibnus Salah pg.83