Author: Imaam 'Abdul-'Azeez Ibn 'Abdillaah Baaz
Translator: Isma'eel alarcon
All praise be to Allaah and may the peace and blessings be on His Messenger, our Prophet Muhammad, his family and companions. There is no doubt that seeking knowledge is from the most virtuous acts of worship. And it is from the causes that bring about the success of Paradise and honor for those who act on it. From the most important of matters, is that one have sincerity in his search for knowledge, and this is by making his studying for the sake of Allaah and not for any other objective. This is because this is the way for one to derive benefit from it and a means for successfully attaining the highest of positions in this world and the next. It is reported in the Hadeeth that the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said:
"Whoever learns some knowledge, by which Allaah's Face is sought, but he doesn't learn it except to achieve some worldly goal by it, he will not smell the fragrance of Paradise on the Day of Judgement." - Reported by Abu Dawood with a hasan (sound) chain of narration.
At-Timidhee reported a hadeeth with a chain in which there is some weakness, that the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said:
"Whoever seeks knowledge to compete with the scholars or to debate with the ignorant ones or so that the people's faces can turn towards him, then Allaah will enter him into the Hellfire."
So I advise every student of knowledge and every Muslim to have sincerity with Allaah in all of their actions, acting on the words of Allaah:
"So whoever hopes for meeting his Lord, then let him do righteous deeds and not mix anyone (or thing) with the worship of His Lord." [Quran Al-Kahf: 110]
In Saheeh Muslim, the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) is reported to have said: Allaah said:
"I am the most free of all those who are mixed in worship with Me from shirk. Whoever does a deed in which he mixes someone else along with Me (in the worship), I abandon him and his shirk.'"
Likewise, I advise the student of knowledge and every Muslim to fear Allaah and to acknowledge that Allaah is watching Him in every matter, acting on Allaah's statement:
"Verily those who fear their Lord with the unseen (i.e. they do not see Him), they will have forgiveness and a great reward." [Quran Al-Mulk: 12]
And His saying:
"And whoever fears the position of His Lord will have two Gardens." [Quran Ar-Rahmaan: 46]
Some of the Salaf said: "The pinnacle of knowledge is fear of Allaah." And 'Abdullaah Ibn Mas'ood (raa) said: "It is sufficient as knowledge that one fear Allaah. And it is sufficient as ignorance that one is deceived about this." And some of the Salaf said: "Whoever is the most knowledgeable about Allaah, he is the most fearing of Him." What indicates the correctness of this understanding is the saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam)
"As for me, by Allaah, I am the most fearing of Allaah amongst you and the most dutiful (having Taqwaa) to Him amongst you." - Reported by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.
So every time the servant's knowledge of Allaah becomes strengthened, this is a means for the perfection of his Taqwaa and Ikhlaas, and his stopping at the limits (set by Allaah), and his refraining from sinful acts. This is why Allaah said:
"Verily, only those who fear Allaah from His servants are the knowledgeable ones (i.e. the scholars)" [Quran Al-Faatir: 28]
So the ones who are knowledgeable of Allaah and His Religion, they are the ones who fear Him the most and who are the most dutiful to him from amongst the people. At the head of them are the messengers and prophets, 'alayhim as-Salaam, and then those that follow them in goodness.
This is why the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) informed us that from the signs of success is that the servant of Allaah acquires fiqh (or understanding) of the Religion, as He said:
"Whoever Allaah wants good for, He gives him understanding of the Religion." - Reported by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim from the hadeeth of Mu'awiyah (raa).
This is for no other reason except due to the fact that understanding of the Religion will prompt the servant to establish Allaah's Commandments, to fear Him and to carry out His obligations and to stay away from those things that draw His displeasure. And it will call him towards good manners and righteous actions and in being sincere to Allaah and His servants. So I ask Allaah that He grant us and all the students of knowledge, as well as all the Muslims, understanding of His Religion and perseverance upon it. And I ask that He grant us refuge from the evils of our souls and the evils of our actions. Indeed He is in charge of that and able to carry it out.