Everyone wants to be ascribed to knowledge, even the most ignorant of people would wish for others to talk of him as a person of knowledge.
This is why in today's world people love titles such as Haafidh, Taalib al-'Ilm, Shaikh etc. But wanting knowledge is not itself a bad thing, rather it is one of the most noble things a person could aim for in life.
However sometimes certain hurdles might appear, obstacles if you like, that often come in the way of most people. Here I will try my best to mention some of the main problems most people face whilst seeking knowledge in order to help us all avoid them.
Shyness will prevent you from greatness.
Have you ever attended a class? Only to find the teacher talking and explaining whilst using a particular word, be it in Arabic or your own native tongue (it might even be in Klingon for all you know), and you think to yourself, 'I wonder what that means?'
But of course instead of raising your hand and cutting the teacher off, you just sit there smile and nod your head whilst remaining ignorant. I mean everyone else in the class seems to understand the teacher, you can't embarrass yourself and make everyone think your dumb or something right?
Little do you know though that it is highly likely that half of the class you are sitting with are all sitting there with the same goofy looking smile not understanding the teacher. So now you really only have one of two options, either you remain ignorant and let this shyness get in the way, or you man-up (woman-up if you're a sister of course) and ask.
What is the worst that could happen? Most teachers are good people, and won't make you feel silly (even though it is fun to tease students, no lie), and in truth, you only came to benefit and not show the people in the class how goofy you look when smiling all clueless.
Also, think of the Sahaabah, how they asked very embarrassing questions at times (even female Sahaabiyaat) in order to benefit, even Jibreel asked the Prophet 'What is Islaam'! So please never feel shy when it comes to learning about your religion, whether it be how you pray, how you make Wudhoo' etc. People wont turn around and say, 'What! You're twenty-two and you are asking me now!' I promise you it is all in your head.
The sin of Iblees himself.
This is the opposite of the previous point, in this case the person seems to think of themselves as a scholar, anything you tell them they wave off as, 'Oh yeah I knew that already' and this is a very bad trait.
This will lead the person to stop going to local classes because he/she feels like that stuff is below them, granted they might attend when or if a big scholar comes and visits the city but other than that they tend to look down upon weekly classes held at the Masjid.
They might even think of it as 'cute' that brothers and sisters are studying '40 hadiths by Imaam an-Nawawee' or 'Al-Osool ath-Thalaatha' and when invited to such a class they will quickly blurt out, 'Yeah no, I studied those books a gazillion years ago, memorized them and plus I was buddies with Shaykh Ibn Baaz (rahimahullaah) too...'
This type of attitude towards knowledge will never benefit the individual, rather it will only stop them and prevent them. What is the harm in studying one book twice? If anything you'll only increase your own knowledge, and if not even that, you will gain the tremendous reward of sitting in a gathering where Allaah is remembered.
So do not belittle any knowledge dear brothers and sisters.
#4 Qeel wa Qaal - Busying yourself with hearsay
I ain't trigger happy, I am just loading the gun.
This is a BIG problem amongst students of knowledge, especially those who are new to seeking knowledge.
Instead of busying themselves with memorising books and sitting with knowledgeable people, they fish around for the latest dirt as if Islaam was something from Hollywood where you get the latest gossip in tabloids.
And if you were to ask these very same individuals to recite Surah Al-Faatihah they might stutter, or if you ask them about Tahaarah they will tell you: 'Akhee (my brother) ask a Shaikh, I'm no Shaikh' yet when it comes to labelling individuals he/she is Shaikh-ul-Islaam himself!
However with all due respect, this is not to be confused with those sincere individuals who report on the behalf of the real scholars, warning people against innovators. These blessed people call mankind back to the scholars and the pure form of Islaam, the way the Companions and those after them understood it.
What I am mentioning here are those people who lack knowldege and are trigger happy when it comes to issuing a Fatwah concerning whether or not a person is a upon the right Manhaj or not (without any evidence from any scholar). This leads us to our next point.
#3 Not prioritising
You mean I shouldn't start with this book?
By this I mean, a student might be eager to seek knowledge and rightfully so, but he does not have a schedule, he starts by listening to Kitaab At-Tawheed one day and then gets bored, only to move on and study Buloogh al-Maraam the next day.
And if you were to stop him and ask, 'Brother what about the Qur'aan?' He will tell you 'I'm doing it bro, I am doing it!' And this is one of the main problems with people, they seem to always go for the big books, as if they want to prove to people 'look at me, I study Saheeh Muslim, oh you're still memorising juzz 'amma sis? Poor you!'
But the truth of the matter is, the one who starts from the bottom and works their way up towards the top, that person is the one who will benefit the most. Focus on yourself, you're seeking that knowledge for your own benefit first and foremost.
Let the people laugh if they see you walking around with a book teaching you the Arabic alphabet, don't pay attention to them if they happen to be carrying Tafsir Ibn Kathir. It was never about the people in the first place, so why bother? Which leads us to our next point.
#2 Riyaa' - Showing off
This is not only a problem for those who seek knowledge but a problem for anything you want to do in life.
Allaah does not accept Riyaa' in any form it might take, and those who fall into Riyaa' will have their good deeds nullified. And since today being a student of knowledge has become the new fashion, this has become more dangerous than ever.
So with all this it becomes crucial that you seek knowledge for the sake of Allaah and Him alone. The punishment of not doing that is very severe, and the Ahaadeeth actually tell us that such individuals will be burnt in the hell fire before the Mushrikeen (those who commit Shirk)!
The scholars warn us again and again, and say that whoever tries to show off with his/her knowledge, Allaah will not only punish them in the hereafter, but even in this world they will be prevented from seeking true beneficial knowledge. So you will see these type of people, always trying to show off in the gatherings, they love to appear as students of knowledge but it is all for show.
Do not be from amongst these people dear brothers and sisters.
#1 Giving up
This is because as human beings we are very impatient, we want everything right now. We think if we attend one class for a month or two, we become students of knowledge if not scholars.
We want to become Ahmad Ibn Hanbal over night, Imaam al-Bukhaaree in a week and so on. And when this doesn't work out we look at ourselves and get disappointed. Yet the true scholars sought knowledge for 60 years if not more! How can you attain what they did within a year or two?
Not to mention that seeking knowledge is an ever lasting quest, it is not like becoming an engineer or a doctor, you dont 'graduate' and say now I am a Shaikh rather you keep seeking knowledge until the day you die.
So do not overwhelm yourselves, take it one step at a time, it is a very long road ahead, and it is not as glamorous as you might think it is. Many nights will be spent reading and memorising and fighting with ones own intentions.
You will quickly notice that if your intentions weren't correct, like if you're seeking knowledge to make you the most popular sister around the block, you will soon quit because your intentions were never for the sake of Allaah to begin with.