Questioner: When does a person know that he can reach the ability of making a ruling concerning a hadith?
Al-Albaani: This is an important question. He will know that when he puts his research and personal statements before those of the people of knowledge of old whose statements have been penned down in their books–and finds that in the majority of cases he is in agreement with them. This is from one angle.
From another angle [is that he] finds that the people of knowledge value his knowledge and ijtihaad, and that they do not regard him, as we just said, as yet unqualified to prop himself up as someone who authenticates [hadiths] and declares them to be weak.
In other words: a person should be distant from being deceived by his knowledge. And it is in the nature of many people not to see their own faults but to see those of others, for this reason he should seek the aid of those people of knowledge who are around him, and thus see his faults through them, as [the Prophet] صلى الله عليه وسلم indicated in the well-known hadith, ‘The believer is his brother’s mirror.’ [As-Saheehah, no. 926, hasan]
A believer truly sees his mistakes and faults through others.
And he should seek the help of the people of knowledge in order to know whether or not he is worthy of researching or performing ijtihaad–whether that be concerning declaring matters of knowledge authentic or weak or whether that be concerning issuing religious verdicts in fiqh issues.
Al-Fataawa al-Kuwaitiyyah, pp. 83-84.