It is upon the student of knowledge to purify himself outwardly by steering clear of innovations, beautifying himself with the sunan of the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) in all aspects of his life, preserving his wudū’, and keeping his body and appearance clean – all within reasonable means, and as much as he is able.
Ibn Abī Hātim reported that ‘Abd al-Malik al-Maymūnī said: “I do not know that I have ever seen anyone who wore cleaner clothes, was more attentive to trimming his moustache and grooming the hair on his head and body, or wore purer and whiter garments than Ahmad bin Hambal.” And this was because every single movement of Ahmad (may Allāh have Mercy on him) was in accordance with the Sunnah, as he said: “I never wrote a single hadīth except that I acted upon it, to the point that I came across a report that the Prophet (peace be upon him) got cupped and gave Abū Taybah (his cupper) a dīnār. So, I got cupped and gave the cupper a dīnār.”
One shouldn’t misunderstand the encouragement to have clean clothes and be excessive and obsessive in regards to his clothing. Rather, one should be slightly less than this, considering that it is reported that the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) said: “Badhādhah is from faith.”
Ibn al-Athīr said: “Badhādhah is to have a plain, ascetic appearance…and he (peace be upon him) meant that one should be humble in his clothing, avoiding vanity.”
And al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī (may Allāh have Mercy on him) reported that Abū ‘Abdillāh al-Būshinjī said: “As for the badhādhah that the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) said is from faith, it is the plainness one displays in dress and garment, and this is humility from owning flashy, expensive clothing and garments. This is how the people of zuhd dress in this world.”
al-Khatīb (may Allāh have Mercy on him) said:
“The student of knowledge must set aside amusement, useless talk, and low speech when meeting and gathering with others, such as immaturity, laughter, giggling, and excessive joking. It is allowed for him to laugh mildly and rarely in a way that does not exceed the limits of the manner and style of one who is dealing with knowledge. As for constantly doing this, speaking about inappropriate, immature, and childish matters, excessive laughter and joking – this all reduces one’s esteem and manhood.
Mālik (may Allāh have Mercy on him) said: “It is upon the student of knowledge to manifest calmness, humility, and tranquility, and to follow in the footsteps of those who came before him.”
Muhammad bin al-Husayn reported from Sa’īd bin ‘Āmir that he said: “We were with Hishām ad-Dastawā’ī, and one of us laughed. So, Hishām said to him: “You laugh while you are a student of Hadīth?!””
‘Abd ar-Rahmān bin Mahdī reported that a man laughed in the presence of Hishām ad-Dastawā’ī. So, Hishām said to him: “Young man, you seek knowledge and laugh?!” The man replied: “Doesn’t Allāh make us laugh or weep?” Hishām replied: “Then weep!””
[Excerpts taken from book ‘The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker’]