Advice to the Student of Knowledge – Shaykh Salih al-Fawzaan
Q: What do you advise the Student of Knowledge with from the aspect of obtaining and seeking Islamic knowledge? What is your advice with regards to this? May [Allah] reward you.
A: In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
All praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists). And peace and blessings be upon our prophet Muhammad, his family and all his companions. To proceed:
Indeed, seeking knowledge is from the greatest [forms] of worship because [acts] of worship must be based upon knowledge and this evidence is found in the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger.
The Ibaadaaat (acts of worship) have Shuroot (conditions), Ahkaam (rulings), Waajibaat (obligatory parts) and Sunan (i.e. in this context it those affairs of the Sunnah that are not obligatory but are either recommended or highly recommended). A person must therefore learn from that to the extent that he can practise his religion properly. From the five pillars of Islam a person will learn what is necessary to practise his religion and this is an individual obligation on every Muslim and beyond that there are the rulings of mutual dealings, wills, inheritance etc these are fardh kifaayah, if some fulfill it, the rest are absolved of sin.
It has been reported, about the virtues of knowledge, from the prophet peace be upon him that “the scholars are the inheritors of the prophets.” And likewise that the angels lower their wings for the student of knowledge and that being seeks forgiveness for the student of knowledge, even the fish in the oceans, due to the virtues of seeking knowledge.
However, knowledge is sought from the scholars-those who are trustworthy in their Aqeedah (creed) and their knowledge, (from one) generation after (another) generation. This is because knowledge is taken by instruction [directly from a scholar], and knowledge is not [gained] by [merely] reading. [Merely] reading a lot of books is not [the way of] learning. In fact, this may mislead a person even more. Knowledge is only gained by [direct] instruction from the true, trustworthy scholars, generation after generation.
[Islamic] knowledge is indeed a significant knowledge (and) is only to be taken from its people. It should not be taken from those who feign knowledge nor [just] from the books. It must be taken from the erudite scholars, generation after generation.