The caution of Imaam Ahmad regarding rulings

‘Abd Allaah son of Imaam Ahmad said, “I used to hear my father being asked many questions, and he would respond, ‘I do not know!’ if the issue had a difference of opinion. Often he would say, ‘Ask another person!’ If he was then asked, “Who shall we ask?,” he would reply, ‘Ask the scholars!’ and he would hardly name any person.” (Masaa’il Al-Imaam Ahmad [Questions to Imaam Ahmad], narrated by his son ‘Abd llaah, p. 438) Ibn Al-Qayyim said about Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah’s Pleasure be upon him), ‘He used to intensely hate and prevent giving rulings for an issue which had no precedence with the predecessors,’ that is, in a new issue, he would intensely hate doing so, and say, “Beware of discuss an issue in which no Imaam has discussed!” (I’laam Al-Muwaqqi’een [Notification of the counter-signatories], 1:27) Abu Daawood also said in his Masaa’il (Questions), ‘I cannot count how many times Ahmad was asked about much in which there was a difference of opinion, and he would say, “I do not know!” I also heard him say, “I have not seen the like of Ibn ‘Uyaynah regarding giving rulings,’ that is, I have seen no better than him. It was easier for him to say, “I do not know!”’ (Masaa’il Al-Imaam Ahmad, narrated by Abu Daawood, p. 368)