So it is upon you O Muslim, and O Student of Knowledge in particular, to verify and that you are not hasty in taking everything that you hear. It is upon you to verify and to be aware, who is the one who said this thing? And where did this idea come from? And then what is its basis, and its proofs from the Book and the Sunnah? Then where did this person study and who did he take knowledge from? So these matters require verification, particularly in this time. So we do not accept every saying that anyone is saying, even if he speaks well, and speaks eloquently, and speaks abundantly and attracts people’s hearing, do not be taken in by it until you look and see the extent of their knowledge and understanding of the Religion that he has.
Or it may be the case that a person’s speech may be little, but he is a person of understanding of the Religion. And it might also be the case that a person’s speech may be plentiful, but he is an ignorant one who has nothing from knowledge and understanding of the Religion. Rather he just has magical/enchanting speech so that he fools the people, and gives the false impression that he is a scholar and that he is a person of understanding and that he is a thinker and the likes of that, so that the people are taken in and he takes them away from the Truth. So what is counted is not the amount of speech and being able to ramble on, rather what is counted is what it contains with regard to knowledge and what it contains with regard to being based upon correct principles. And it may be the case with speech that is little but it is correctly based upon correct principles. This will be far more beneficial than abundant speech which is just lengthy, and from which no benefit can be taken except a little. And this is the situation in our time, where speech is abundant and knowledge is scarce; the recitors are many, and the people of knowledge and understanding (fuqahaa~) are few in number. And fiqh (knowledge and understanding of the Religion) does not come about by being able to speak a great deal, or to recite a great deal, or being able to speak well or being able to word things well…
…So the eloquent person, he can turn the Truth into falsehood and falsehood look like the Truth by means of his eloquence, so beware of this. And therefore the Prophet sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam he warned against the person who is very eloquent in speech, the person who moves his tongue around just as the cows move the tongue around.1 He (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) warned against this one and he said,
“Some speech is like magic.”2
Meaning it enchants the people’s hearing (acts like magic upon the hearing of the people)…
… So al-fiqh (knowledge and understanding of the Religion) contains a protection from trials and tribulations. And al-fiqh means al-fahm (understanding of the Religion). And a person may have memorized a great deal, but he does not have understanding, so therefore he and the common person are just the same. Indeed the common person may be better than him because he withholds himself and he recognizes his own ignorance, while this one does not realise that he is actually an ignorant person. Therefore the matter is not just memorizing a great amount or speaking a great deal. The matter is a matter of fiqh (understanding) and therefore he sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam said,
“Perhaps one who has something conveyed to him will be better comprehending than the one who heard it (originally).”4
So a person may memorize something, and transmit and narrate, and yet there may be someone there who understands it better than he does. (Allaah’s Messenger sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam said)
“There may be a person who conveys knowledge of the Religion but he is not one who comprehends it.”5
He is a carrier of the knowledge and a transmitter of it, however he is not one who has understanding of it. So fiqh (knowledge and understanding of the Religion) is a gift from Allaah which Allaah gives to whomever He wishes from His servants. However, if he utilizes it properly and advances it/causes it to grow then he will benefit from it. But if he neglects it, it will be lost.
His saying, “So do not be hasty and do not enter into anything from it until you ask and look: Did anyone from the Companions of the Prophet sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam speak with it?” This is a tremendous piece of advice if some speech pleases you regarding the Religion. As for speech about the affairs of this world, then that is not the topic under discussion here. Rather if some speech with regard to the Religion seems pleasing to you then don’t be hasty until you examine it: Is it founded upon something true and upon proof or is it just from the person’s own head and his own thinking? For if it is, then it is just scum, like the scum which is carried on the top of flood water. Leave it (in that case). But otherwise if it is founded and based upon the Book and the Sunnah, then it is true. So therefore to do not be hasty in taking speech without restraint, even if it seems pleasing to you in its fine manner of speaking and it is eloquence and its forcefulness and in the style of address, do not be hasty about it until you examine and you test it against the Book and the Sunnah, and examine and see who said it. Is he a person of knowledge and understanding (a faqeeh) or not a person of knowledge and understanding? Until you ask the people of knowledge about it (this matter) and you look and see, did anyone from the Salaf (Predecessors) say it or did they not say it? And this is something I have warned against many times, that I say: Do not introduce personal deductions and opinions and sayings and wording which have not been preceded upon. Take as your example the Salaf and the speech of the Salaf, and if you bring something which you have no one who precedes you upon it, then it will be something odd and strange, and its danger will be far more than its benefit.
Excerpts taken from ‘Ithaaful-Qaaree bit-Ta`leeqaat `alaa Sharhis-Sunnah’ by Shaykh Saalih ibn Fowzaan al-Fowzaan hafizahullaah
Translated by Aboo Talhah Daawood Burbank, rahimahullaah