By the infinite mercy of Allah, I have been blessed to be able to teach the Shama’il Muhammadiyyah of Imam Tirmidhi twice in the last year and have begun to teach it again this year to students of the Dawrat al-Hadith. In the beginning of the year, students were very adamant on finding a commentary of the Shama’il that best suited their needs, in other words both relatively comprehensive and also concise.
While I suggested that the students try and benefit from all the different commentaries given that each has its own virtues and each contains discussions not included in the others, I was forced to admit that, in my humble opinion and to the limits of my knowledge, the best version that fit their needs is the famous commentary of ‘Allamah Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Bajuri al-Shafi’i entitled al-Mawahib al-Ladunniyyah ‘ala al-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyyah.
This book, being a later commentary, had benefited immensely from the earlier works of Imams Ibn Hajar al-Makki, Mullah ‘Ali al-Qari, and ‘Abd al-Ra’uf al-Munawi, and had concisely summarized their main points.
Despite its conciseness, the Mawahib does miss a lot of the beneficial detailed discussions mentioned in say ‘Ibn Hajar’s Ashraf al-Wasa’ilor Mullah ‘Ali Qari’s Jami’ al-Wasa’il. But given the fact that most students won’t need that much detail nor do they find the time to read it, I suggest that they suffice with ‘Allamah Bajuri’s book.
An excellent edition of Bajuri’s commentary has been published with the Shama’il and edited by the respected hadith master, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah (may Allah lengthen his life). While this edition is fairly difficult to get a hold of in the West, an online pdf version is available for download. I have included a link to it below.