Imam ash-Shawkani (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_ash-Shawkani and http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e2181?_hi=0&_pos=2) is the author of the famous fiqh-work Nayl al-Awtar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nayl_al-Awtar). He was from Yemen and had a Shi’a (Zaydi) background. He was a qadi and claimed to be a mujtahid. He is often quoted by muslims from different stances, especially our Salafi brethren. See also this link:
The following can be found in an article about a visit to Yemen from mufti Muhammad ibn Adam:
Another great scholar to have lived and taught in San’a was Imam al-Shawkani (Allah have mercy on him). Imam Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Abd Allah al-Shawkani al-San’ani was born in a town called Shawkan, a days walking distance from San’a, in the year 1173 AH. He then moved to San’a with his father who was a judge and a scholar. He did not travel to gain knowledge; rather, he remained in San’a and took from the Ulama there. He was originally a Zaydi, but then left this school and began to concentrate more on Hadith. He was quite extreme in rejecting Taqlid (following one of the four Sunni Schools) and was an advocator of Ijtihad. He authored many books, the most famous of which is known as Nayl al-Awtar, a commentary on the Hadith collection of Ibn Taymiyya al-Jadd titled Muntaqa al-Akhbar. He passed away in the year 1250 AH and was buried in San’a (may Allah have mercy on his soul). Although Imam al-Shawkani differed from the mainstream Sunni scholars on many issues, he is still considered to be one of the major scholars of Hadith in this Ummah.” (See: http://www.daruliftaa.com/Docs/Bless…s_of_Yemon.htm)
A biography / bibliography in Arabic can be read here: http://www.fustat.com/bibliography/shawkani_1.shtml
A small and quick research on imam ash-Shawkani rahimullah on the internet gives the following results.
An interesting article on the imam by Abul-Husein from The Translators-blog: http://www.altranslators.com/bg/?p=135
A biography of the imam can be bought here: http://kitaabun.com/shopping3/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=shawkani&osCsid=4c9558fbc7b4c76add1e66abe3dcd453 and also from the well-known Dar us-Salam publishing house.
An excellent biographical research on the imam is done by Bernard Haykel (see: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/mideast/people/haykel.html and: http://www.princeton.edu/~nes/faculty_haykel.html) with the title: “Revival and Reform in Islam: The Legacy of Muhammad al-Shawkani“, which can be bought here: http://www.amazon.com/Revival-Reform-Islam-al-Shawkani-Civilization/dp/0521528909/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238020476&sr=1-4
A review of this book can be read here: http://www.al-bab.com/bys/books/haykel05.htm and another review here: http://www.articlearchives.com/humanities-social-science/religion/931891-1.html
Here is a link to a review in a magazine (which you can’t read online): http://www.muslimreviewonline.net/wiki/index.php?title=Reinhart%2C_A._Kevin._(2005)._Review_of_the_book_Revival_and_reform_in_Islam:_The_legacy_of_Muhammad_al-Shawkani
A study in the thought of imam ash-Shawkani can be bought here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LFRJG6?ie=UTF8&tag=bund-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001LFRJG6
Here you can read (and download as PDF) an article by Haykel with the title: “Al-Shawkani and the Jurisprudential Unity of Yemen“: http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/remmm_0997-1327_1993_num_67_1_1587
And another article by the same author “A Zaydi Revival?”: http://www.aiys.org/webdate/hayk.html This is not specifically about ash-Shawkani but more about the contemporary revivalism of Zaydism in Yemen. More on the Zaydi’s here: http://seekingilm.com/archives/21#more-21
The whole (I guess) book itself can actually be downloaded for FREE here: http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=subject%3A%22nayl%20alawtar%22
Lectures on the Book of Marriage from Nayl al-Awtar can be downloaded and listened here: http://www.archive.org/details/minisi-tahawiah-eng
There are reviews of this book in English:
1.) by brother Anwar al-Awlaki: http://www.anwar-alawlaki.com/?p=32
2.) by the brothers from the SeekingIlm blog: http://seekingilm.com/archives/52
Furthermore: there is a dvd with the book which can be bought here: http://www.noonmarket.com/ProductDetails/32/Nail-Al-Awtar and here: http://www.amazon.com/AramediA-Nail-Al-Awtar/dp/B000EGI2FU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=software&qid=1238021968&sr=8-2
A partial English translation of his small fiqh work “al-Durrar al-Bahiyyah” by Yahya Adel Ibrahim can be downloaded here: http://alhidaayah.net/books.html (Scroll down, the first title under Fataawa) Also here one can read notes from a course on this book: http://abdurrahman.org/salah/durarrbahiyyahShawkaani.html Also lectures on this book are available from that site.
Some of his books can be downloaded here: http://read.kitabklasik.co.cc/search/label/al-Syaukani