It is important to know and understand that the statements of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) hold great weight in Islam, with many aḥādīth showcasing its importance. And similarly following the path of the pious predecessors is also a strong pillar within Islam. I do not wish to lengthen this post with evidences for this lest to divert away from the objective of this post.
Below are statements of companions and pious predecessors compiled by Imām Badr Ad-Dīn Ibn Jamāʿah Al-Kinānī in his book, Tadhkirat as-Sami wa’l-Mutakallim fi Adab al-‘Alim wa’l-Muta’allim (A Memorandum to the Listener and the Speaker on the Etiquette of the Scholar and the Learner).
– Abū’l-Aswad ad-Du’alī رحمه الله said, ‘There is nothing more powerful than knowledge. Kings are the rulers of the people and the Scholars are the rulers of the Kings.’
– Ḥaḍrat Muʿādh رضى الله عنه said, ‘Study knowledge; for to study it is a good deed, to seek it is worship, to revise it is glorification of Allāh, to research it is the struggle in Allāh’s way, to offer it to someone brings you closer to Allāh and to teach it to someone who does not know, is charity.’
– Ḥaḍrat ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿUmar رضى الله عنه said, ‘A single gathering of knowledge is better than worshipping for 60 years.’
– Sufyān ath-Thawrī رحمه الله and Imām ash-Shāfiʿī رحمه الله both said, ‘After the obligatory acts of worship, there is no endeavour more virtuous than seeking knowledge.’
– Az-Zuhri رحمه الله said, ‘There is no better way to worship Allāh than having deep understanding of knowledge.’
– Ḥaḍrat Abū Dharr and Ḥaḍrat Abū Hurairah رضى الله عنهما both said, ‘To study a chapter of knowledge is more beloved to us than 1000 voluntary units of prayer and to teach one chapter of knowledge – whether or not it is acted upon – is more beloved to us than 100 voluntary units of prayer.’
The aforementioned clarifies that being occupied with seeking knowledge for Allāh is more better than optional physical acts of worship. This is because the benefit of knowledge reaches the Scholar as well as the people, whereas optional psychical acts of worship is restricted only to the doer. In addition, it is knowledge that authenticates other forms of worship. Therefore, worship is in need of knowledge and is dependent on it whereas knowledge is not dependant upon worship. Also, the effects of knowledge remain long after the death of a scholar while other optional acts of worship ceases to exist when a person passes away.[Etiquette of the learner, Imām Badr Ad-Dīn Ibn Jamāʿah Al-Kinānī]