Imam Malik (ra) advised Imam Shafi’i (ra) to make his actions like flour and his knowledge salt. What did he mean? Bread is made from much flour, to which only a pinch of salt is added. Such should be the combination of knowledge and action within a scholar.
~Sh. Zulfiqar Ahmad in Letter I of Wisdom for the Seeker. Sh. Ahmed Arshad also mentions this advice in his lecture on Sincerity in Actions. Here is a bit of the lecture, at aruond the 8 and a half minute mark:
Someone once asked the shaykh, what is ilm? And he replied that ilm is that information that once it enters your heart, it does not leave without you acting upon it. That is what ilm is. So this is the second level of deen that we need to acquire is to start acting on the ilm, become people of action. It is a major short coming today.
People like intellectual islam, they like the philosophy behind it, they like to talk about it, like to debate about it, but when you ask them mashaAllah what is the condition of your salat? A lot of people say they are empty inside. Why? Because the information is in their brain, it has not entered their hearts yet, otherwise they would be people of action.
Imam Shafi’i, his teacher told him, my son, make your ilm like salt and make your amal like flour, because when you are making something, you have a lot of flour, and a little pinch of salt in it, meaning the little knowledge that you have, you have to do so much action on it. It’s exactly the opposite today.
Are you a person of information or of action? Looking at my large collection of islamic books and comparing it to my paltry offerings of ibadah, it’s not hard to see where I lie, astaghfirallah.
May Allah (swt) make us people who have more flour then salt, ameen.