Praise be to Allah.
We could not find what you mentioned of the words of Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) and we could not find this du`a, “O Allah, I ask You for the comfort of being close to You,” in any of the books of Sunnah, nor did we find it narrated from any of the salaf. Hence it is unlikely that the Shaykh uttered this du`a.
As is well known about Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, he was very keen to adhere to the way of the salaf and to emphasize the proven du`as, and not to assert such virtues unless there is evidence to that effect, especially when this du`a could be quoted a great deal by some people who try to put other off seeking knowledge and claim to have acquired knowledge directly from Allah, as one of them said, “my heart told me, from my Lord”!
The texts urge us to seek knowledge and pursue it, and state that seeking knowledge is the duty of every Muslim.
We asked Shaykh Dr. Saami al-Saqeer (may Allah preserve him) – who is one of the senior students of the Shaykh (may Allah have mercy on him) and spent a great deal of time with him – and he said: This is a lie against the Shaykh.
The du`a, “O Allah, I ask You for steadfastness in this matter …” is a proven du`a of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Ahmad (17155), al-Tirmidhi (3407) and al-Nasaa’i (1304) narrated that Shaddaad ibn Aws (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught us to say: “Allahumma inni as’aluka al-thabaat fi’l-amri, wa as’aluka ‘azeemat al-rushd, wa as’aluka shukra ni’matika wa husna ‘ibaadatika, wa as’aluka lisaanan saadiqan wa qalban saleeman, wa a’oodhu bika min sharri ma ta’lam wa as’aluka min khayri ma ta’lam, wa astaghfiruka mimma ta’lam, innaka anta ‘allaam ul-ghuyoob (O Allah, I ask you for steadfastness in this matter, and I ask You for the resolve to adhere to the path of guidance, and I ask You for gratitude for Your blessings and to worship You well, and I ask You for a truthful tongue and a sound heart, and I seek refuge with You from the evil of what You know, and I ask You for the good of what You know, and I ask You for forgiveness for what You know; You are the knower of the Unseen).”
This hadith was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah no. 3228, and classed as hasan by Shu’ayb al-Arna’oot in Tahqeeq al-Musnad.
It was narrated by Ahmad with the words: “When people accumulate gold and silver, you should accumulate the words ‘Allahumma inni as’aluka al-thabaat fi’l-amri…’”
These are the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), not the words of Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him).
The words Allahumma inni as’aluka al-thabaat fi’l-amr (O Allah, I ask You for steadfastness in this matter) mean steadfastness in adhering to Islam. Wa as’aluka ‘azeemata al-rushd (and I ask You for the resolve to adhere to the path of guidance) i.e., to adhere to all matters that lead to what which is right and proper.
Wa as’aluka shukra ni’matika (I ask You for gratitude for Your blessing), i.e., to be enabled to give thanks for Your blessings.
Wa husna ‘ibaadatika (and to worship You properly) i.e., so that I may perform all acts of worship in a manner that is pleasing to You.
Wa as’aluka lisaanan saadiqan (I ask You for a truthful tongue) i.e., one that is protected from lying; wa qalban saleeman (and a sound heart) i.e., one that is free of false beliefs and whims and desires.
A’oodhu bika min sharri ma ta’lam (I seek refuge with You from the evil of what You know) i.e., what You know and I do not.
This is a comprehensive request that includes seeking refuge from all evils, and seeking all that is good. This du`a, which is concise in wording, ends with a plea for forgiveness which is the main point of the du`a, and says: Wa astaghfiruka mimma ta’lam, innaka anta ‘allaam ul-ghuyoob (and I ask You for forgiveness for that which You know; You are the knower of the Unseen).
May Allah help us all to do that which He loves and which pleases Him.
And Allah knows best.