In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
The Good Outcomes of Knowing One’s Real Worth
Imaam Fudayl Bin Iyaad [rahimahullaah] said, “The highest level of [good] manners in our view is that a person knows his real worth”. [Ref 1]
Question to Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh al-Uthaymeen: May Allaah have mercy upon a person who knows his limitations and worth- [Does this (saying) have an (established) source and has it been transmitted in a hadeeth?]
Answer: I do not know of an (established) source for it; however its meaning is correct. (That is) because when a person knows his (limitations and worth), he will be humble in the presence of his Lord. He will worship Allaah and will know that he is not free from being in need of Allaah in the twinkling of an eye. If he knows himself, he will know his status amongst the people and this knowledge will (prevent) him from being haughty towards them- because haughtiness is from the major sins and looking down on the people is from the forbidden affairs. That is why when the Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) warned against haughtiness (or pride), they (i.e. the people) said: “Everyone of us loves that his clothes and shoes are nice;’’ so he (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) said: “Indeed, Allaah is beautiful and He loves beauty; haughtiness (or pride) is to reject the truth and look down on the people.” So when a person knows his (limitations and worth), he will know his rank amongst the people. He will place himself in his (rightful) place; humble himself in the presence of his lord and in the presence of Allaah’s creation. And whoever humbles himself to Allaah, Allaah will raise him. [Ref 2]
Shaikh Rabee Bin Haadi [hafidhahullaah] said: Knowledge is not merely about studying and obtaining certificates, rather the goal [or aim] is to acquire sound and precise understanding – sound understanding in affairs of Aqeedah, worship, good manners, good etiquettes and everything related to the life of a believer. It is obligated on the believers to carry out everything related to their lives based on the Book of Allaah and the [authentic] sunnah of Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam]. The believer performs acts of worship sincerely for the Sake of Allaah because Allaah commanded him [or her] to be sincere. [Allaah (The Blessed and Exalted) said]:
وَمَآ أُمِرُوٓاْ إِلَّا لِيَعۡبُدُواْ ٱللَّهَ مُخۡلِصِينَ لَهُ ٱلدِّينَ حُنَفَآءَ وَيُقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَيُؤۡتُواْ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَۚ وَذَٲلِكَ دِينُ ٱلۡقَيِّمَةِ
And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat: and that is the right religion. [Surah Al-Bayyinah’ Aayah 5] [Ref 3]
The Great Difference Between High Aspiration and Pride In The Path of Seeking Knowledge
Shaikh Uthaymeen [rahimahullaah] said: To have a high aspiration [or a high ambition in the path of seeking knowledge] is that a person preserves his time, knows how to utilise it and does not waste time instead of utilising it in something beneficial. And when [another] person comes to him and he sees that sitting with such person will distract [or divert him from what is beneficial, befitting etc], he knows how to act [behave or react]. As for pride [or having an excessive sense of one’s own importance], it is about the behaviour of that one who belittles others and he does not consider people to be anything else other than frogs. And it may be that he would turn his face away whilst speaking to the people, just as the author stated that the difference between having high aspirations and pride is like the difference between the sky with [clouds] that give rain, again and again and the earth which splits [with the growth of trees and plants]. [Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm. Page 163]
Signs of Wellbeing and Wretchedness Related to Knowledge, Deeds, Wealth, Honour and Status
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said:
And from the signs of well-being and success is that whenever the slave is increased in his knowledge, he increases in humility and mercy; and whenever he is increased in action, he increases in his fear and caution; and whenever his age is increased, he decreases in eagerness; and whenever he is increased in wealth, he increases in his generosity and spending; and whenever his status and honour is increased, he increases in coming close to the people, in fulfilling their needs and being humble in (their presence).
And the signs of wretchedness are: Whenever he is increased in knowledge, he increases in pride and haughtiness; and whenever he is increased in actions, he increases in his boasting, mockery of the people and having a good opinion of himself; and whenever he is increased in his status and honour, he increases in pride and haughtiness. These affairs of [well-being and wretchedness] are a trial and a test from Allaah by way of which He puts His slaves to trial. He brings about well-being and wretchedness to a people by way of these affairs. [Ref 4]
Ref 1: Hilyatul Awliyaa; Ref 2: Source: Noor Alad-Darb: cassette: 250; Ref 3: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm. Page 72-72; Ref 4: Al-Fawaa-id. page: 228. slightly paraphrased