With regards to people seeking knowledge from the youngsters at the expense of seeking it from the senior scholars, `Abdus Salaam ibn Burjis (d.1425AH) rahimahullaah comments:
And indeed the phenomenon of taking knowledge from the younger ones amongst the students of knowledge has become widespread in this era.
And in reality this phenomenon is a chronic disease, an enduring sickness, preventing the (true) student from what he intends and something by which he twists away from the correct path which would lead to knowledge.
And that is because taking knowledge from the younger people – those whose feet have not become firmly grounded in knowledge and whose beards have not become white in it (seeking knowledge), despite the presence of a person who is greater than them in age and one whose feet are more firmly grounded – then this weakens the foundation of the beginner and prevents him from taking benefit from the knowledge of the senior scholars, and from acquiring their manners which knowledge and time have made good – and other than that from the justifications that are suggested by the narration of ibn Mas`ood radi Allaahu `anhu when he said:
“The people will not cease to be upon good as long as they take knowledge from their senior ones and from their trustworthy ones and from their scholars.
So if they take it from their younger ones and their evil ones, they will be destroyed.”
Quoted in ‘Awaa-iq ut talab of ‘Abdus Salaam ibn Burjiss rahimahullaah page 23, translated by Nasser ibn Najam
With regards to the student of knowledge needing to have a teacher, the Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al ‘Uthaymeen rahimahullaah comments:
And there is no doubt that the teachers will be questioned about the students because they are their shepherds; and every person is a shepherd and will be questioned about his flock.
The students are in need of the teachers and the scholars with regards to direction and guidance because the scholars have gained experience from matters which the students have not. And with them are (aspects) of knowledge which the students do not have.
Therefore the student is in need of the teacher from the aspect of knowledge and the aspect of actions (which bring about) experience.
Thus it is binding upon him to have the utmost eagerness to select the teachers who are known for knowledge and who are known for trustworthiness and religion, and known for their sound methodology and for their tending (to matters) in a correct way such that he can take from their knowledge firstly, then from their manhaj secondly.
Quoted in Wasaayaa wa tawjeehaat li tullaab il ‘ilm pages 199-200 by Nasser ibn Najam
Shaykh Saalih al Fawzaan hafidhahullaah said:
And the scholars give importance to these brief works, authoring them and exerting themselves in keeping them to shorten them and refine them; then they would encourage their students to memorise them so that they should remain fundamental assets for them and a store of provision for them from which they can derive benefit, and through which they bring benefit to others by means of them.
And beginning with these shorter works is the foundation for the students of knowledge, so the student of knowledge should begin by learning little by little, taking from the initial points of knowledge and its fundamentals and then proceeding in stages through it.
So these brief works are the path leading on to the longer works. So it is not possible for the longer works to be understood exept after the brief works have been understood and then the person has preceded on from them in stages. And therefore they said about the meaning of His saying, He the Most High:
But rather be rabbaaniyyoon (wise scholars who cultivate the people) by your teaching them the Book and your studying it. [Soorah Aale Imraan aayah 79]
The word rabbaaniyyoon – they are those who begin with the small matters of knowledge before the greater ones. They cultivate themselves and their students beginning with the smaller matters and moving onto the larger matters, and this is something natural, because all things begin from their roots and their foundations and then they grow bigger and larger after that.
As for the person who pounces upon knowledge from its top, then this person will just tire himself out and not attain anything. Whereas the one who begins with the fundamentals and proceeds in stages, this is the person who, by the permission of Allaah, will be proceeding in the correct way and with sound direction.
(From the introduction to Sharh Usoolith Thalaathah by Shaykh Saalih al Fawzaan, translator Abu Talhah Dawood, taken from www.ittibaa.com)