Source: Sheikh Muqbil Ibn Haadee al-Waadi’ee
We see that some people do not give importance to seeking knowledge from the hands of the scholars and are satisfied with studying books in their homes. They argue that Sheikh al-Albaanee (may Allaah the Exalted preserve him) was able to reach the level of knowledge that he possesses solely by means of reading, not by means of taking from the scholars themselves. Is this correct and with what do you advise the one who says this?
That which I advise him is that if he is able to, then he should attend the gatherings of the scholars, because at times sitting with a scholar can be equal in its benefit to reading for an entire month. Yet if it is not possible for one to sit with the scholars, then he should have a library for his study and should correspond with the people of knowledge, consulting and seeking clarifications from them and striving in a good way. But how would this be implemented? If he has a book and he is sure that it is from so-and-so who is trustworthy then there is no harm in reading it and benefiting from it. As for the different meaning of statements and expressions of the scholars then these will eventually become clear in the mind of the individual reading them. I still recall some of the statements of my Sheikh, Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdul-Wahaab as-Somaalee, may Allaah the Exalted preserve him, from his lessons in the sanctuary of Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
However, if there are no scholars available or he is not able to attend, then he should have a library, and rely upon Allaah, the Most Perfect and the Most High to successfully learn. But be warned with a serious warning of the slips, unintentionally misleading statements, and those statements that conflict with what is correct that come from the established, well-known scholars that he may read. As such it is upon him to submit and compare his own thinking and ideas to that to the thinking and ideas held by the early scholars of this Ummah.
And I am not inviting one to simply blindly follow them, as blind following is generally impermissible in the religion. Rather, he must seek to be guided by their understanding. Then in proceeding in this way a library is something good and is a blessing from Allaah, the Most Perfect and the Most High, and it makes the use of books easier. Perhaps this present availability of books were never this easy for many of the early Muslim scholars. If one of us was charged with having to copy Fath al-Baaree by hand, as perhaps they did, he would not be able to do so!” 1
- From ‘A Defending Mission from Audio Lectures Upon the People of Ignorance & Sophistry’: Vol. 1, Page 63