When we read the stories of the scholars of Islam, the Tabi’een, At-Tabi’een, the Sahabāh Radiyallāhu Anhum,we are truly amazed, but have we ever thought how they have gained so much knowledge??
Yes, Allāh had bestowed upon them such knowledge but we have to realize that these were not spoonfed to them. They have struggled to learn and because they wanted to learn in fear of the reckoning of Allāh, in both the fear they had for Allāh and the love they had for Allaah.
Abdullāh ibn Mubārak Radhiyallāhu Anhu was a companion of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wassalaam) who learned from 4,000 teachers during his lifetime and he had to go to them to learn. He said;
 “I spent thirty (30) years learning manners, and I spent twenty (20) years learning knowledge.”
Now, imagine his patience, diligence and tolerance, not anyone of us nowadays would even stand having 3-5 teachers a day without complaining and talking about their mannerisms, Astagfirullāh.
Abu Dārda (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) is foremost among the Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) who possessed very sound knowledge in religion. He was called Haakim-ul-Ummāh (The Sage of Islam).
 Kathīr Ibn Qais (Radhiyāllahu Anhu) narrates that;
“I was sitting with Abu Dārda (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) in a masjid in Damascus, when a person came to him and said, “O, Abu Dārda, I have come all the way from Madinah to learn one Hadīth from you, as I understand you have heard it directly from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wassalaam).”
Abu Dārda Radhiyallāhu Anhu asked him: Do you have any other business in Damascus?
He answered: No .
Abu Dārda (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) asked again: “Are you sure that you have no other work in Damascus?”
He said: “I have come to this place with the sole purpose of learning this hadith.”
Abu Dārda (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) then said: “Listen. I have heard the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi wassalaam saying;
“Allāh eases the way to Paradise for one who traverses some distance to seek knowledge. The angels spread their wings under his feet, and all things in heavens and earth (even the fish in the water) pray for his forgiveness. The superiority of a person possessing knowledge over a person doing worship is as the superiority of the moon over the stars. The Ulama are the inheritors of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wassalaam). The legacy of Prophets Alaihimussalaam is neither gold nor silver. their legacy is knowledge. A person who acquires knowledge acquires a great wealth.”
Subhan’Allāh! a person would travel places like from Madinah to Syria just to learn one hadīth, because they knew that their hijra and travel to these places are of seeking knowledge, and they knew the reward for such act is just beautiful, (and yet we say we seek knowledge already by surfing the internet. Sad thing, really)
 Abdullāh Ibn ‘Abbas’s (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) thirst and devotion for knowledge was the reason he was known as Hibr ul Ummāt (The Most Learned Man of Islam) and Bahrul Ulum (Ocean of Knowledge) in his time. He once said:
“After the death of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi wassalaam, I said to an Ansari friend of mine: ‘The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi wassalaam is no longer with us. But a larger number of Sahabah are still among us. Let us go to them and get knowledge of the Islamic practices.’
He said:’ Who is going to approach you for learning a regulation in the presence of these eminent Sahābah?’
I was not discouraged. I kept up my quest for knowledge and approached every person who was supposed to have heard something from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wassalaam). I managed to gather substantial information from the Ansar. If on my visit someone of the Sahabah, I found him asleep, I spread my shawl at the gate and sat waiting. Sometimes my face and body would get covered with dust, but I kept sitting till they woke and I was able to contact them.
Some of them said: ‘Abdullah you are the cousin of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi wassalaam; you could have sent for us. Why did you take the trouble of coming to our places?’ I said to them: ‘I must come to you, for I am student and you are my teachers.’
Some people for whom I had waited said: ‘Since when you have been waiting for us?’ I informed them that I had been sitting there for a pretty long time. They said: ‘What a pity! You could have awakened us from our sleep’ I said: ’ I did not like to disturb you for my own sake.’ I thus carried on my pursuits, till there came a time when people began to flock to me for learning.
My Ansari friend realized this at that time and remarked, “This boy has surely proved himself more sensible than us.”
The Sahābah Radhiyallāhu Anhum weren’t one of those whom teachers go to a classroom and teach, no, these people learned from the verbal teachings of their imams, their Amir and other great sahabah, they were truly “seeking” for knowledge, they didn’t just sit and learned, they made the effort to learn, and once they have they understood it and then embodied it and spread it— This is the true beauty of seeking knowledge.
These are just some of the beautiful excerpts from the life stories of these great men.
Sa’abi Rahimahullah once said;
“You are listening to this hadith while sitting in your home town. People had to travel all their way to Madinah for even less important things, because Madinah was the only seat of learning in those days.”
So learn from them, learn from their patience, diligence and tolerance. May Allaah be pleased with them. Aameen.
 To add here is a list of the 7 Sahabah Radiyallahu Anhum whom are known for the number of ahadith they have narrated:
• Abu Hurairāh (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) 5374 ahadīth
• Abdullāh Ibn Umar (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) – 2360 ahadīth
• Anās Ibn Mālik (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) – 2286 ahadīth
• A’ishāh Bint Abu Bākr (Radhiyallāhu Anha) – 2210 ahadīth
• Abdullāh Ibn Abbas (Radhiyallāhu Anhu)- 1660 ahadīth
• Ja’abir Ibn Abdullāh (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) – 1540 ahadīth
• Abu Sa’īd Al-Khudrī (Radhiyallāhu Anhu) – 1170 ahadīth
Indeed it was both the labor and devotion of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) together with the Tabi’een (Rahimahumullah) which caused the sacred knowledge to live up to our time.
Do we not give thanks and feel much love for these people?? If yes, then don’t we need to give MORE to the one who has bestowed upon them such patience, perseverance, valor, love and dignity to fight for this knowledge to be preserved so that it can reach our generation and the next generation?
and we pray that we find that feeling of us in need of learning these knowledge that these great people fought for, did their best to preserve it and at the end may we embody the values it has and the teachings it has and that we may become one of those who did not just preserve their knowledge for their own sake but for the sake of the whole Ummah. in shaa Allāh.