Shaykh Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut is one of the greatest living hadith scholars and editors of the classical hadith collections. Of all the works he has edited, he has a special regard for Sharh al-Sunnah by al-Baghawi (d.516/1122), which he has also edited and refined in a critical edition. Another major contemporary editor of classical works, Dr. Abdullah al-Turki, ranks it in his introduction to his edition of al-Bayhaqi’s Sunan al-Kabir alongside al-Dhahabi’s list of the four ‘Books of Islam’ that all scholars need: al-Muhalla by Ibn Hazm, al-Mughni by Ibn Qudama, al-Tamhid by Ibn Abd al-Barr, and al-Sunan al-Kabir by al-Bayhaqi.
Whilst reading al-Dhahabi’s entry on al-Baghawi in Siyar (v. 19, p. 439), I found the following footnote by Shaykh Shu’ayb on Sharh al-Sunnah:
‘It is a magnificent book in its field, without which no seeker of knowledge can suffice, for it is from the most esteemed books of the Prophetic model that have reached us from the heritage of the predecessors in terms of arrangement and refinement, harmonization and precision… It demonstrates the expertise of its author, may God have mercy on him, in the noble Prophetic traditions and their criticism, his knowledge of chains of transmission and their hidden defects, erudition in the schools of thought of the Companions and their Followers, the leaders of the various lands and independent jurists. I do not know of another book on the Sunnah that enriches one in the way that it does.’