In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
The questioner [may Allaah bless him] asks Shaikh Saaleh Aala Ash-Shaikh [may Allaah preserve him]: “I have been seeking knowledge for a number of years, but despite this, neither have I consolidated the knowledge-based information (sought after) nor am I aware of the benefit (acquired from that). What do you advise me? May Allaah reward you”.
Answer: Do not say that you are not aware of a benefit because a student of knowledge is (considered to be engaged) in worship. The aim behind seeking knowledge is that the person receives Allaah’s [The Mighty and Majestic] Pleasure.
You all know about the man who went away to repent, so the angel of death came to him (i.e. took his soul); then the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment disputed about his affair- angels of mercy said, “He came along being repentant and remorseful in his heart in the presence of Allaah” but the angels of punishment said, “He has done no good at all”. Then another angel came in the form of a human being in order to decide between them and said, “Measure between the two lands” (i.e. to find out which of them he was closer to). They measured it and found him nearer to the land where he intended to go (i.e. the land of the pious people), so the angels of mercy took him. This repentant man was forgiven because his steps (towards repentance) were recorded for him; therefore the steps of a student of knowledge towards knowledge are an act of worship similar to the steps of the repentant migrator towards the land of goodness. Seeking knowledge is better for you than supererogatory prayer or some of the supererogatory acts of worship; therefore there has to be a truthful intention (behind it). Then the benefit will (be acquired) bit by bit. And the aim is not to become a scholar or a student of knowledge initially; rather the aim behind your seeking knowledge is to remove ignorance from yourself-worshiping Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic] with correct acts of worship and that your Aqeedah is sound, become submissive to Allaah, safeguarded from doubtful affairs that are made to resemble the truth and from seeking fame. Allaah (The Most High) said:
يَوۡمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ۬ وَلَا بَنُونَ
إِلَّا مَنۡ أَتَى ٱللَّهَ بِقَلۡبٍ۬ سَلِيمٍ۬
The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail; except him who brings to Allah a clean heart [clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)].
Allaah (The Mighty and Exalted) said: [إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجۡرَ مَنۡ أَحۡسَنَ عَمَلاً – Verily! As for those who believe and do righteous deeds, certainly! We shall not suffer to be lost the reward of anyone who does his (righteous) deeds in the most perfect manner].
If you never benefited except yourself and your family, then there is great good in this. (1) (end of quote)
May Allaah reward Ustaadh Abu Abdir Rahmaan Mehdi [hafidhahullaah] for sharing the arabic text of this statement.
[Ref 1: Source: الوصايا الجليّة للاستفادة من الدروس العلميّة للشيخ العلامة صالح آل الشيخ- Question 3. Page 24. slightly paraphrased]