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ABUL KALAM AZAD
Maulana Azad was born in Mecca on 11 November
1888. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's real name was Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin.
His ancestors came from Herat to Mughal India over 400 years ago. His father
Sheikh Mohammad Khairuddin, an Islamic scholar, migrated to Mecca in
mid-19th century and married the daughter of a famous scholar of Medina. A
few years after the birth of Abul Kalam, the family returned to India and
settled down in Calcutta at the request of the disciples of his father.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was a great Indian Muslim intellectual and
freedom fighter. He had the rare combination of learning and revolutionary
activity. He was one of the architects of modern India, along with Mahatma
Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Maulana Azad was an eminent scholar of Urdu, Persian and Arabic. He was a
distinguished journalist and author. Maulana Azad was well versed in many
languages viz. Arabic, English, Urdu, Hindi, Persian and Bengali. Maulana
Azad was a brilliant debater, as indicated by his name, Abul Kalam, which
literally means "lord of dialogue". He adopted the pen name 'Azad' as a mark
of his mental emancipation from a narrow view of religion and life. Maulana
Azad became independent India's first education minister. For his invaluable
contribution to the nation, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was posthumously awarded
India's highest civilian honor, Bharat Ratna in 1992.
Maulana Azad was an eminent Urdu writer with a philosophical bend. His works
include Tarjuman-ul-Quran, Tazkirah and Ghubar-e-Khatir.
In 1912, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad started a weekly journal in Urdu called Al
Hilal to increase the revolutionary recruits amongst the Muslims. Al-Hilal
played an important role in forging Hindu-Muslim unity after the bad blood
created between the two communities in the aftermath of Morley-Minto
reforms. Al Hilal became a revolutionary mouthpiece ventilating extremist
views. The government regarded Al Hilal as propogator of secessionist views
and banned it in 1914. Maulana Azad then started another weekly called
Al-Balagh with the same mission of propagating Indian nationalism and
revolutionary ideas based on Hindu-Muslim unity. In 1916, the government
banned this paper too and expelled Maulana Abul Kalam Azad from Calcutta and
interned him at Ranchi from where he was released after the First World War
At the age of 35, he was elected the President of the Indian National
Congress in 1923. He was again the Congress President during the crucial
period of 1940 to 1946. After the Indian independence in 1947, Maulana Abul
Kalam Azad became the Minister of Education, a position he retained until he
passed away in 1958. Maulana Azad instituted the Indian Council for Cultural
Relations in 1950.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad served as the Minister of Education in Pandit
Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet from 1947 to 1958. He died of a stroke on
February 22, 1958.