Learning the Beneficial Knowledge Derived From the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam -.
Ibn Rajab defines this knowledge, saying: “Beneficial knowledge is to define, accurately and meticulously, the texts of the Book and Sunnah and to understand them.
It is to confine oneself in regard to this, to the reports transmitted from the Companions, their successors and their successors in turn which pertain to the explanation and understanding of the Qur’aan and Hadeeths, as well as the discourse related from them on issues of the lawful, unlawful, zuhd (i.e., asceticism), raqaa’iq (i.e., matters that soften the heart), the (various) branches of knowledge and so on.
It is also, to firstly exert efforts towards distinguishing the authentic reports from the unauthentic, then secondly to exert efforts towards seeking out their meanings and gaining an understanding of them. This is sufficient for the intelligent and (enough) labor for the one who is concerned and preoccupies himself with the beneficial knowledge…” Fadl Ilm as-Salaf alaa Ilm al-Khalaf, page 45
Recorded in the Saheehayn, is the hadeeth of Mu’aawiyah, may Allaah be pleased with him, in which he says. ‘The Messenger of Allaah – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – said: “Whomever Allaah desires good for, He imparts upon him understanding of the religion.” Related by al-Bukhaaree, (1/164, 6/217, 12,294 Fath) and Muslim, 4/1524
Related in al-Musnad and other sources, is the hadeeth of Aboo ad Dardaa’, may Allaah be pleased with him, in which he says, The Messenger of Allaah – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – said: “He who treads a path in search of knowledge Allaah will direct him to tread a path from the paths of Paradise. The Angels lower their wings for the student of knowledge in approval of what he does. All in the heavens and earth and the fish in the depth of the water seek forgiveness for the scholar, and the superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the superiority of the full moon at night over the rest of the stars. Verily the scholars are the heirs to the Prophets. Verily, the Prophets did not bequeath deenars or dirhams. All they left behind was knowledge, so whoever takes it, has indeed acquired a huge fortune.” Al-Musnad, 5/196. Also related by Aboo Daawood, 3/317; at-Tirmidhee 5/49; Ibn Maajah 1/81, ad-Daarimee, 1/98 and ibn Hibbaan, 1/152 (al-Ihsaan). It was declared saheeh by a-Albaanee; see Saheeh al-Jaami 5/302. Ibn Rajab has provided a commentary to this Hadeeth in a small work of his, so one should refer to it.
The aforementioned texts manifest the rank and status of Knowledge, and its great standing and importance.
Al-Aajurree states in the introduction to his book Akhlaaq al- Ulamaa, “Allaah, sanctified are His names, singled out those of His creation whom He loved and then guided them to eemaan. He further singed out from amongst the believers those whom He loved and favored them by teaching them the Book and Hikmah.
He granted them the tawfeeq in the religion, taught them the explanation and favored them over the rest of the believers. This is the case in every age and place. Allaah elevated them with knowledge and adorned them with forbearance. Through them, the lawful is known from the unlawful, the truth from falsehood, the harmful from the beneficial, and the good from the bad. Their virtue is enormous and their standing is great. They are the heirs to the Prophets and a pleasure to the eyes of the righteous. The fish in the sea seek forgiveness for them, the Angels lower their wings for them and they are second after the Prophets who will intercede on the (Day of) Resurrection. Their gatherings impart wisdom. Through their actions, the heedless are restrained and scolded.
They are the best of the slaves and are higher in rank than the zuhaad (i.e., ascetics). Their life is a treasure and their death is a calamity. They remind the negligent and enlighten the ignorant. Trouble and ill treatment is not expected or feared from them. By their fine instruction, the obedient ones dispute and by their eloquent sermon, the slack ones return. Everyone is in need of their knowledge… so they are the lamps for the servants, the landmarks of communities, the backbone of the ummah, and the sources of wisdom. They are the subject of Shaytaan’s rage. Because of them, the hearts of the people of truth come to life and the hearts of the people of deviation die.
Their similitude upon this earth is that of the stars; they guide one in the darkness of the land and sea. If the stars blacken out, people become confused and when the darkness unveils the stars, they see.” Ahklaaq al-Ulamaa, page 13 &14
Knowledge is not sought after in itself but for something else and that is action.
Shaykh al-Islaam lbn Taymiyyah states: “…this is why it is said, ‘Knowledge is of two types: knowledge in the heart and knowledge upon the tongue. The knowledge in the heart is the beneficial knowledge and the knowledge upon the tongue is the proof of Allaah upon His slaves” This is a statement of al-Hasan al-Basree, may Allaah have mercy upon him, and it is recorded by ad-Daarimee (1/102). Shaykh al-Islaam mentioned this in al-Fataawa and attributed it to al-Hasan, see: 7/23. … so the faqeeh whose heart has acquired understanding and enlightenment is not like the khateeb who addresses with his tongue. The heart may attain great matters of knowledge and understanding and its occupier may not speak of it to anyone. Similarly, one may speak about many issues concerning the heart and its states and the person may be at the same time void and bare of such matters.” Dar’ at-Ta’aarud 7/453-454
* selected texts from the book Causes behind the Increase and Decrease of Eeman by Shaykh ‘Abdur-Razzaak al-‘Abbaad