“No person to whom God had given the Scripture, wisdom, and prophethood would ever say to people, ‘Be my servants, not God’s.’ [He would say], ‘You should be devoted to God because you have taught the Scripture and studied it closely’” [Quran 3:79].
There is no point in seeking religious knowledge if it does not increase your taqwa (mindfulness of God). One of the fundamental points of seeking this sacred knowledge is to increase your level of righteousness.
In a verse in the Qur’an, Allah directly draws a connection between acts of devotion to to Him and knowledge: “What about someone who worships devoutly during the night, bowing down, standing in prayer, ever mindful of the life to come, hoping for his Lord’s mercy? Say, ‘How can those who know be equal to those who do not know? Only those who have understanding will take heed” [Qur’an 39:9].
Yet in another verse it says, “It is those of His servants who have knowledge who stand in true awe of God” [Qur’an 35:28]. Commentators of the Qur’an have viewed this verse to mean that religious knowledge leads to obedience of the Creator, the more knowledge one has, the more he/she should be obedient to Him. Al-Hasan Al-Basri, a famous early scholar of Islam, said about this verse, “The one who has knowledge is the one who fears the Most Merciful in private, and seeks that which Allah wants for him and abstains from that which incurs the wrath of Allah.“
Al-Sa’di, a well known Muslim scholar who lived in the 20th century, said about verse 35:28, “The more a person knows Allah, the more he will fear Him, and the fear of Allah will make him refrain from sin and prepare to meet the One Whom he fears. This is indicative of the virtue of knowledge, for it calls one to fear Allah. The people who fear Allah are the ones who will be honored by Him, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “God will be pleased with them, and they with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord” [Qur’an 98:8].
Unfortunately many people are in it just for debates, arguments, and ego. If you don’t see an increase in humility and righteous actions after seeking religious knowledge, then you need to ask yourself are you just wasting your time? What you in it for?
In various places in the Qur’an, Allah criticizes past nations for their scholars’ bickering and arguing over issues after knowledge had come to them. Meaning the very knowledge that was suppose to make them humble and more devoted turned them arrogant and rather than increasing acts of devotion and worship, they wasted time arguing and bickering among themselves mainly due to jealous animosity between them.
“And those who were given the Scripture [before you] did not differ except after knowledge had come to them – out of jealous animosity between themselves” [Qur’an 3:19].
“And We gave them clear proofs of the matter [of religion]. And they did not differ except after knowledge had come to them – out of jealous animosity between themselves. Indeed, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ.” [Qur’an 45:17]
Perhaps this is what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) feared when he warned, “Whoever seeks [religious] knowledge in order to compete with the scholars, to prove himself superior to the ignorant, or to make the people look up to him, he is in the Fire” (al-Albani graded it authentic in ‘Sahih Ibn Majah’ (205)).
In short, if seeking religious knowledge is not making you a better practicing Muslim, then there is a problem.