Generally speaking, the one who says that he is supposed to study the small books first: he is supposed to advance gradually in seeking knowledge. Not the small [books first]. Not every small [book] is studied first. Not every small book is suitable to be studied first. No! And I don’t know this questioner’s scale for small and big.
Rather, that which is obligatory upon the student of knowledge, when he wants to follow the path of the Scholars in attaining knowledge, is that he advances gradually in the sciences and that he advances gradually in seeking knowledge. This is the first thing.
Secondly: that he advances gradually in one science [at a time]. You say [to this]: “O Shaykh, when will we be able to accomplish something?” We say: Yes! If you waste your time in ‘Qeel wa Qaal’ (it was said and he said), in going and returning, and most of the time you’re asleep or writing on the internet, participating [in discussions], answering, taking, giving and preventing… You don’t even seek knowledge! You don’t sleep except that you are like an drugged and knocked down person! Then he misses the prayers and the congregational prayers, and then he comes and says that the congregational prayer isn’t obligatory and that sleeping is not negligence. And he comes with these excuses that don’t apply to him.
“Hard work [is achieved] by effort and deprivation is by laziness. So work hard, then you will soon accomplish your goal.”
It is obligatory that you strive to attain knowledge, that you follow the path of its people, that you are patient upon that and that you follow the correct path. And we have spoken about this repeatedly.
Trust me completely, by Allaah, if you are truthful to Allaah in your desire to attain knowledge so as to worship Him – the Majestic and Most High – upon baseerah (insight, sure knowledge) and to aid His Religion, by Allaah, then Allaah will give you success. By Allaah! And He will bless you in your time, and even in your age! And that is not difficult for Allaah! And the proofs are there! So don’t say that [only] the Salaf in the past were like this.
And there are still Scholars now whom Allaah has blessed in their time and in their knowledge. This is al-‘Allaamah, the Shaykh of our Shaykhs, Shaykh Haafidh al-Hakamee – may Allaah have mercy upon him. When did he die? How old was he [when he died]? Around 36 years. And he was a proficient scholar and a verifying writer! We aren’t [only] speaking about times and generations that are long ago and far away. The same applies to the present! But whoever is truthful to Allaah, then Allaah will be truthful to him (i.e. He will give him what he wants)!