One of the Maraji` of Sham
He is `Uthman Nuri al-Khatib ibn `Uthman al-Khatib ibn Muhammad al-Khatib. The marja` was born in the city of Duma in the year 1297 AH and came from a family of scholars, both his father and grandfather being judges and maraji` in their own right. The beginning of his studies was commenced with his father, Imam`Uthman al-Khatib, the teacher and preacher of righteousness.
After completed the elementary books of creed, fiqh and language, he made his way to Damascus and went to a number of schools (Ar. madaris) and seminaries (Ar. ma`ahid). He began with the tafsir collections of Imams Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn `Adil, Ibn Kathir and others.
In the area of hadith, he focused on the collections of Imams al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, an-Nasa’ii at-Tabarani, may Allah be pleased with all of them. In the musnad hadith collections, he focused his time on the Musnads of Imams Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`ii, may Allah be pleased with both of them.
Upon turning his attention to usul, he focused on Mukhtasar ar-Rawdah, al-Bulbul (which is a shorter rendering of the three volume mukhtasar), al-Kawkab ul-Munir and others including the Al-Mustasfa.
After this, the Shaikh then went back to the branches and again reviewed what he had memorised of Al-`Umdah, Zad ul-Mustaqni` and Al-Kafi. He then built further understanding of the literature using the works of Imam Mar`ii ibn Yusuf al-Karmi (d. 1033 AH) as a sole reference for deriving his usul in new matters.
After perfection of this area, he was made to review his knowledge of Arabic grammar, syntax, inheritance scholars of high rank and good character. Some ten scholars in Damascus gave him permission to speak and teach and conferred upon him the rank of marja` and sent him back to Duma, where his father asked him to begin to write books and answer questions for scholars and people.
This confirmation of his status of marja` was made in the year 1324 AH and he became part of a body of maraji` in the year 1329 AH. The revolution in Syria had impacted on even this tiny city and the Shaikh was surprised at the changes that had occurred while he had been away. Imam `Uthman Nuri al-Khatib knew his work would be long and arduous.
The waves of secularism let loose on the city had been turned back by his hands and with the assistance of many of the other able bodied maraji` in the city and surrounding areas. Shaikh al-Khatib, while fighting this war, filled his time with teaching, preaching, writing and answering questions from the other maraji` and common Muslims. The Imam lived long into old age and his death was Friday 24 Sha`ban 1385 AH.
Once the people of the area, Duma and beyond, heard about his death, the maraji`, students of knowledge and laity – men and women – came in their droves to bid the Imam farewell. Imam al-Khatib has his resting place next to his father.