Source: The Book of Knowledge, Al-Allaamah Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen, pg.33
Seeking knowledge of the Sharee’ah is a collective obligation (fard kifaayah). So if someone performs this act, then his act suffices for the rest, and (it’s performance) then becomes a preferable act (Sunnah) for the rest. In certain cases it could also be that the seeking of knowledge is obligatory (fard ‘ayn – individual obligation) upon some.
It’s principle is that when the need to perform an act or to uphold a transaction befalls upon the servant, then it becomes obligatory upon him in this state to know how to engage in the worship of Allah by this act, and how to uphold this transaction, and any other actions besides these, such as seeking knowledge, are regarded as a collective obligation (fard kifaayah).
It is befitting for the student of knowledge to be conscious that he is upholding the collective obligation whilst seeking knowledge such that he gains the reward for performing this obligation as well as gaining knowledge.
There is no doubt that seeking knowledge is amongst the most virtuous acts, moreover, it is from jihaad in the path of Allah; Especially in this day and age of ours, where innovations have emerged in the Islaamic society and have increased and become widespread; and the emergence of extreme ignorance from those who aspire to pass religious verdicts (fataawa) without sound knowledge; and the emergence of disputing between many people. So all of these three issues illustrate the importance upon the youth to seek knowledge.
Firstly, the emergence of innovation and it’s evil effects;
Secondly, people aspiring to pass religious verdicts (fataawa) without sound knowledge;
Thirdly, much disputing in religious matters, such that when a matter is clear for the people of knowledge, you find those who lack sound knowledge coming forward and disputing about it.
So, because of this, we are in need of people of knowledge who are firm, upright, and possess an abundance of knowledge and understanding of the Religion of Allah, and have wisdom in advising the servants of Allah. Many people nowadays are aquiring theoretical knowledge in religious matters whilst no importance is attached to reforming and improving the people nor their education. And if they pass religious verdicts (fataawa) regarding this and that, then this becomes a means to great evil whereby no-one knows its true intent except Allah .
Sisters Upon Al-Istiqaamah