Here is a beautiful excerpt from Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan’s explanation of Sharhus-Sunnah of Imaam Al-Barabahaaree, taken from last week’s lesson of Aboo Talhah Daawood Burbank.The author (Imaam Al-Barbahaaree) rahimahullaah said:
And know, may Allaah have mercy upon you that knowledge is not in being able to narrate much and in having many books, rather the scholar is the one who follows the knowledge and the sunnahs (in some versions: the Book and the Sunnah) even if his knowledge and his books are limited and whoever opposes the Book and the Sunnah then he is a person of innovation, even if he narrates much and has many books.
(Shaykh Saalih Al-Fowzaan hafizahullaah said in explanation of this point:)
His saying: And know, may Allaah have mercy upon you, that knowledge is not in being able to narrate much and in having many books. `Ilm (knowledge) is not in knowing many things and reading much and having many books. Knowledge is only through having fiqh (knowledge and understanding) and through ittibaa’(following) and in ‘amal (action upon it), even if the person has only a little knowledge. So a small amount of knowledge along with righteous action and with correct understanding of the religion is something that is much. Whereas having a lot of knowledge with little action and without following, there is no benefit in it. So the Jews have amongst them people of knowledge, they have rabbis and yet despite this their knowledge does not benefit them and they became those upon whom there is anger because they disobeyed Allaah upon knowledge and insight, so what is intended is not to have a large amount of knowledge and to have read many things, what is intended is action. This is what is intended by knowledge and this is the path of those upon whom Allaah has bestowed his favour. Just as He the Most High said (the explanation of which is), ‘Guide us upon the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favour’ and they are the people of knowledge and action. ‘Not the path of those whom You are angry with’and they are those who possess knowledge without action. ‘Nor the path of those who are astray’ [Sooratul-Faatihah, verses 6-7] and they are those who act without knowledge. So therefore knowledge will not benefit unless it is with action and action will not benefit unless it is along with knowledge. So knowledge and action must be combined and this is the path of those who have favour bestowed upon them.
His saying: And rather the scholar is just the one who follows (applies) the knowledge and the sunnahs even if he only has a small amount of knowledge and of books. The scholar is only the one who follows the book and the sunnahs even if he has only acquired a small amount of knowledge, contrary to the case of someone who has acquired a great deal of knowledge or who has many and various books, however he does not act, then this there is no benefit in it. Knowledge becomes much and it increases and it grows along with righteous deeds. As for knowledge without action then it is stripped of blessing and it will not remain.
And the people of knowledge are of two categories:
The first one: those who are scholars with the tongue only
The second one: those who are scholars with the tongue and with the heart and they are the people of al-khashyah (fear of Allaah). He the Most High said (the explanation of which is), ‘It is only those who have knowledge amongst His servants who fear Allaah’ [Soorah Faatir, verse 28]. So having knowledge and fear (of Allaah), these two are al-`ilmus–saheeh, correct knowledge. As for just knowledge of the tongue without fear of Allaah then this is the knowledge of the hypocrites, we ask Allaah for safety and security…
…Allaah the Most High said with regard to the Jews (the explanation of which is), ‘The example of those who were given the duty of acting upon the Tawraat and then they did not act upon it is just like the example of a donkey carrying volumes of books.’ [Sooratul-Jumu’ah, verse 5]. So the person who has a huge library but he abandons action or he is an innovator, his example is that of a donkey which carries books and does not benefit from them.
End of Quote.