Shaykh Ṣāliḥ ibn ʿAbd al-Azīz ibn Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm said,
And Ibn ʿAbbās used to try his best to sit in the lectures of the Companions as a learner seeking knowledge. He said once to a man from amongst the Anṣār, ‘come, let us consult the companions of the Messenger ﷺ, for many of them are still around today.’ He replied, ‘I am shocked at you, Ibn ʿAbbās! Do you really think that people will need you with all the companions of the Prophet ﷺ you can see amongst the people?’ Thus, that man refused to accompany Ibn ʿAbbās in his learning, while Ibn ʿAbbās carried on. It was but a few years later – twenty or thirty years – that people came to need Ibn ʿAbbās even more than they had needed some of the foremost Companions, due to the vast knowledge he acquired. Thus, do not disregard Knowledge, for you never know who might need it. You might travel to a land with nothing but ignorance, having no one in it who is learned. And Allāh decrees what He wills, and His decree comes to pass over His servants. When a man does not have with him firm knowledge acquired during times of convenience and being firm with himself, he will be of no use to people, and he may, in some circumstances, be sinning if the means are available to him. If he is smart, enthusiastic and equipped but chooses material wants over gaining [spiritual] knowledge and spreading word of the religion from Allāh, there is no doubt that he may, in some circumstances, be sinning, if the responsibility falls solely on him.
No prophet will come to this nation after the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As for the Children of Israel, prophets used to come to them one after the other, and they used to have amongst them learned men. In this nation, on the other hand, the scholars are the ones who inherit from the prophets. Therefore, remember this virtue, and how the angels seek forgiveness, their pleasure, and how they lower their wings in reverence; and remember the prophet’s ﷺ words, “For anyone who takes a path seeking knowledge, Allāh will facilitate a path to Paradise.” As well as his ﷺ words, “the scholars are the inheritors of the prophets.” And remember times of need.
Nowadays, the number of Muslims in this nation are more than one billion, but how many are students seeking knowledge? True students of knowledge are a rarity. Are these ones enough for the entire nation? They won’t be enough. Even if we train millions and millions of scholars graduate, they won’t be enough for the entire nation either. How can they be enough? These people are in one country and these are in another country, and these days, countries comprise cities and towns that add up to hundreds of thousands on Earth. Despite this growth in human population, students of knowledge are decreasing in number. Don’t look at Riyāḍ, for example, and look at the study circles of some of the sheikhs and say there are lots of people. Or you might look at the number of students in the university. The reality is that knowledge these days is scarcer than scarce. True, the number of “readers” are many, however, the student with strong foundations who has acquired knowledge built around its core principles, is suited to relay the message of Allāh’s religion and teach the meanings in the Book and the Sunnah – these are rare.
Therefore, both struggle and ambition are the way, along with asking Allāh for success and support. Do not underestimate yourself. The Prophet ﷺ said, “do not underestimate any good deed.”