Sincerity in Seeking Knowledge is a Condition that is Continuous – Shaykh Muhammad Baazmool
THE THIRD FOUNDATION:
Sincerity in seeking knowledge is a condition that is continuous and not just preliminary:
What this means is that the student of knowledge should continually strive to implement sincerity in himself, and that he should not refrain from his studies due to the claim that he did not achieve sincerity.
Some scholars have provided the following definition for sincerity (ikhlaas): Ibn Jamaa’ah said:
“It means that one has a good intention when seeking knowledge, by intending through his studies to please Allaah, to act in accordance with what he learns, to revive the Sharee’ah (Islamic legislation), to illuminate his heart, to elucidate its (i.e. knowledge’s) hidden meanings; to get near to Allaah on the Day of Judgement, and to subject oneself to what Allaah has prepared for those who possess it, such as His Contentment and great virtue.”
Sufyaan Ath-Thawree, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:
“I did not try to rectify anything that was more difficult upon me than my intention.”
One should not intend, by his search for knowledge, to fulfil some worldly goal such as assuming leadership, gaining status and wealth, competing with colleagues, having people extol him, taking the front seat in a gathering, and so on, since he will be exchanging that which is better for that which is lower.
Abu Yoosuf, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:
“Intend Allaah through your (search for) knowledge, for indeed I never sat in a gathering of people in which I made it my intention to humble myself except that I didn’t leave from it until I had surpassed them. And I never sat in a gathering of people in which I made it my intention to surpass them, except that I didn’t leave from it until I was disgraced.
Knowledge is one of the many acts of worship and one of the many ways of gaining nearness to Allaah. So if one purifies his intention while seeking it, his deed will be accepted and purified. And its blessing will become complete. However, if he intends other than the sake of Allaah when seeking knowledge, his deed becomes nullified and wasted and his transaction is lost. Perhaps he may even miss out on these (worldly) objectives and never achieve any of them. So in this case, he will have failed in his objective and at the same time wasted his efforts.” 
* This principle entails several matters, the most important of which is:
The Devil enters into the hearts of some people desiring to turn them away from knowledge based on the argument that one should leave off seeking knowledge until he first purifies his intention. This is a plot, scheme and deception of the Devil. Rather, it is upon a Muslim to continue and persevere in his search for knowledge, and to constantly re-evaluate his intention, as Sufyaan Ath-Thawree said: “I did not try to rectify anything that was more difficult upon me than my intention.”
And this is Sufyaan we are talking about, so it applies even more so for those other than him!! Therefore, one should not make this into something that diverts him away from seeking knowledge.
When Hishaam Ad-Dustawaa’ee, may Allaah have mercy on him, said;
“By Allaah, I cannot (honestly) say that I ever went out one day to seek hadeeth for the sake of Allaah”, Adh- Dhahabee, may Allaah have mercy on him, commented on this saying: “By Allaah, me either!”
The Salaf would seek knowledge for the sake of Allaah, and so they became dignified and went on to become Imaams that were followed and looked up to by the people. And there were other people from among them who did not seek knowledge for the sake of Allaah at first, but yet they still attained the knowledge, then they woke up and examined themselves. And so the knowledge led them to have sincerity while on their path (of seeking knowledge). This becomes clearer in what was stated by Mujaahid and others: “We sought this knowledge while not having a big intention concerning it. Then Allaah granted us the intention (for it) afterward.”
Others would say: “We sought this knowledge for other than the sake of Allaah. But the knowledge refused that it sho usly rectify yourself, for indeed your knowledge – Allaah-willing – will guide you to make your intention sincerely for the sake of Allaah.
The Salaf would say: “We sought this knowledge for other than the sake of Allaah. But the knowledge refused that it should be sought except for the sake of Allaah.”
 Tadhkirat-us-Saami’ wal-Mutakallim (pg. 69-70)
 Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (7/152-153)
 Al-Bukhaaree reported this hadeeth in his Saheeh: Book of the Beginning of Revelation (no. 1) on the authority of Umar bin Al-Khattaab (radhi Allaahu anhu) and Muslim in his Saheeh: Book of Leadership (no. 1907)
Source : Laying the Foundations For Seeking Knowledge
Written by: Shaikh Muhammad bin ‘Umar bin Saalim Baazmool
Translated by: isma’eel alarcon, Published by al-ibaanah.com