Sheikh Hânî al-Jubayr, judge at the Jeddah Supreme Court
The Pious Predecessors used to try to avoid issuing fatwâs. They would defer the matter to their peers whenever possible, each preferring that someone else would be the one to give the answer.
They did not conduct themselves in this way in order to hide what they knew, but rather they preferred to be on the safe side. They recognized the fact that fatwâ is a weighty and grave responsibility and that they will be held accountable before Allah on the Day of Resurrection for what they say.
They only did this when there were others available to teach the people and answer their questions on Islamic legal matters. In cases where there was no one else to answer the people’s questions, then the dictates of piety, personal responsibility, and security from sin required them to issue fatwâs to the people according to their knowledge. This is because the concealment of knowledge is sinful.
The way of the Pious Predecessors was to abstain from shouldering the responsibility of fatwâ when other qualified people were present and to shoulder the responsibility fully when they had to.
And Allah is the one who grants success.
Source: Islam Today