The first thing needed by the seeker of knowledge is to realize that seeking knowledge is worship (’ibaadah). Some scholars said, “Knowledge is secret prayer and worship of the heart.”
The condition of worship is: Purity of Intention for Allaah , the Exalted as demonstrated in the aayah:
… “And they were not ordered but to worship Allaah , keeping religion pure for Him.” [Surah Al-Bayyinah: Ayah 5]
The necessity of purity of intention is also demonstrated in the agreed upon hadeeth related by Amir of the believers, ’Umar bin Khattab(RA) that the Prophet(SAW) said “Verily, the deeds are by their intentions and for every one is what they intended. So he who made hijarah [migration] for Allaah and His Messenger, then his migration is for Allaah and His Messenger; but he who made hijarah for the worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration is for that which he migrated to. ” [Bukhari & Muslim]
If purity of intention in seeking knowledge is lost, it is changed from of the best of ways of obeying to the worst of violations. Nothing destroys knowledge like showing off, shirk, or showing off purity of intention exemplified in the listener saying, “I learned and memorized.” The student therefore, needs to purify himself from all that ruins good intentions such as: Showing off, wanting to exceed over others, using the seeking of knowledge as a tool for another intention such as position, money, greatness, or famousness, etc.
There are many tools to help us achieve purity of intention. Some are:
1. Striving within the self and patience with the self.
2. Compulsion in taqwa of Allaah “…And he who fears Allaah , Allaah will find a way out, and will provide for him from where he did not expect” [Surah Talaq : Ayaat 3-4].
In an agreed upon hadeeth, the Prophet(SAW) was asked, “O Messenger of Allaah (SAW), who is the most honoured of people?” He said, “The one with the most taqwa.” He also said “The most that gets people in to Paradise: Taqwa of Allaah and good manners.” [Tirmidhi]
3. Bringing to conscience the greatness of the Creator and that knowing He is watching at all times. This is one of the levels of ihsaan: worshipping Allaah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He sees you.
4. Being vigilant in getting reward from Allaah and increasing good deeds.
5. Increasing dua’ and beseeching Allaah , requesting that He grant you purity in intention.
6. Increasing worship that is not seen by anyone such as extra fasting, praying at night.
7. Avoid seeking praise so that you do not start to trying please only mankind. In a long hadeeth related in Muslim, the Prophet(SAW)
informed us that the first to be used as fuel for the Hell fire on the Day of Resurrection are the reciter of the Qur’an, the mujaahid, and the giver of charity; those that did those deeds so that it would be said: “So and so is a reciter; so and so is courageous, so and so is generous, so and so gives charity.” May Allaah protect us all from the Hell-Fire and give us all purity of intention.
8. Reading about the righteous scholars and learning about their affairs so as to be informed about them, and use them as an example. Our righteous predecessors were very strong in their fear of Allaah and in obedience of Him, and studying their lives affects us and increases our drive to good righteous deeds.
9. Taking the self to account and blaming it for shortcomings in obedience and worship of Allaah helps greatly in perfecting our intentions. ’Umar bin Khattab (RA) said, “Account yourselves before you are taken to account, measure before you are measured, and beautify for the Greatest Presentation on the day nothing will be hidden.”
10. Accomplishment is from Allaah to His servant and His desire for him khair (goodness). Whom Allaah desires goodness, He makes him
understand religion. Mu’amar bin Raashid said, “Verily a man seeks knowledge, but knowledge is refused to him until it is for Allaah .”