The author, (Imām al-Barbahārī) may Allāh have mercy upon him said,
Know! May Allāh have mercy upon you, that knowledge is not simply narrating a great deal and (possessing many) books. Rather, the scholar is the one who follows the knowledge (he has possessed) and the Sunnah, even if his knowledge is small and he only possesses a few books. Whoever contradicts the Book and the Sunnah is an innovator, even if he is very knowledgeable and has many books.
“Know! May Allāh have mercy upon you that knowledge is not simply narrating a great deal and (possessing many) books.”
Knowledge is not knowing much information, reading a great deal or possessing many books. Rather, knowledge is with understanding, following and acting (upon that which one has learnt), even if the person’s knowledge is little. A small amount of knowledge accompanied with righteous actions and understanding of the religion is considered significant, whereas possessing much knowledge without acting upon it or following it has no benefit. For there are scholars and rabbis amongst the Jews, yet regardless of this, their knowledge does not benefit them and they became of those whom the anger of Allāh is upon, because they disobeyed Allāh ﷻ upon insight.
So the intent is not to possess a large amount of knowledge and to be well read, rather the intent is action. This is what is intended by knowledge and this is the path of those whom Allāh ﷻ has bestowed his favour upon. Just as Allāh, the Most High said,
۞ صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ ۞
“Guide us to the Straight Way. The Way of those on whom you have bestowed Your Favour..” 
and they are the people of knowledge and action.
۞ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ ۞
“Not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews)..”
and they are the people of knowledge who do not act upon what they know
۞ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ ۞
“nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).”
and they are those who act without knowledge.
Knowledge will not benefit us expect if it is accompanied with actions, and actions will not benefit us expect if it is accompanied with knowledge. Knowledge and action must be combined and this is the way of those whom the favour is bestowed upon.
“Rather, the scholar is the one who follows the Book and the Sunnah, even if his knowledge is small and he only possesses a few books…”
Indeed the scholar is the one who follows the Book (the Qurʾān) and the Sunnah, even if he has only obtained a small amount of knowledge. Contrary to the one who has obtained much knowledge or has a variety of books – many in number, however he does not act (to what he has obtained from these books or knowledge), there is no benefit in this.
Consequently knowledge increases, grows and becomes numerous when accompanied with righteous actions. As for knowledge that is not accompanied with actions then the blessing will not remain and will be removed.
The scholars are divided into two categories:
- The scholars with the tongue only
- The scholars with the tongue and heart – they are the people who fear Allāh ﷻ.
He, the Most High said:
۞ إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ ۗ ۞
“It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allāh.”
So knowledge and the fear of Allāh ﷻ (combined) is correct knowledge. As for knowledge of the tongue, without the fear of Allāh then this is the knowledge of the hypocrites, and we ask Allāh ﷻ for security and protection.
“Whoever contradicts the Book and the Sunnah is an innovator..”
This is because innovation is that which the worshipper performs in order to draw closer to Allāh, without having a proof (for this act of worship) from the Book or the Sunnah. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not from it will have it rejected.”
Meaning – his actions will be rejected and in another narration “He who acts with actions which is not [in agreement] with will have it rejected.”
So he who introduces a innovation (into the religion) and acts upon it will have it rejected because he is performing an action which have not been legislated by Allāh or the Messenger, so Allāh will not accept it from him.
The scholars have mentioned that actions will not be accepted except by meeting two conditions;
- The action is performed sincerely for Allāh ﷻ and free from shirk
- Following the Messenger ﷺ – and that is by abandoning innovations and newly invented matters.
Every action that is mixed with shirk is invalid, and every action which is based upon innovations is invalid. Actions will not be correct and accepted unless they are performed solely for the face of Allāh ﷻ and according to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ.
“even if he is very knowledgeable and has many books.”
As long as he is an innovator, he will not benefit from his knowledge even if his knowledge was as vast as the sea. If he does not follow the Messenger ﷺ, instead acts according the statement of so and so then there is no benefit in the knowledge that he possesses and he will not benefit from his books.
Allāh ﷻ said regarding the Jews;
۞ مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ حُمِّلُوا التَّوْرَاةَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَحْمِلُوهَا كَمَثَلِ الْحِمَارِ يَحْمِلُ أَسْفَارًا ۚ بِئْسَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ ۞
“The likeness of those who were entrusted with the (obligation of the) Taurāt (Torah) (i.e. to obey its commandments and to practise its legal laws), but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is as the likeness of a donkey who carries huge burdens of books (but understands nothing from them).”
So the one who possesses a huge library but abandons acting (upon the knowledge that he possesses) or is an innovator then he is like a donkey which carries books and does not benefit from them.
 al-Fātiḥah 1:7
 al-Fāṭir 35:28
 [TN] Linguistically bidʿah (innovation) means ‘a newly invented matter’. The Sharīʿah definition of bidʿah is: “A newly invented way [beliefs or action] in the religion, in imitation of the Sharīʿah (prescribed Law), by which nearness to Allāh ﷻ is sought, [but] not being supported by any authentic proof – neither in its foundations, nor in the manner in which it is performed.” Al-Iʿtisām of al-Shāṭibī (1/37). – visit www.spubs.com for more information.
 al-Bukhārī, (no. 2697)
 Muslim, (no.1718)
 al-Jumuʿah 62:5