Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was an Indian poet, writer, journalist and scholar who became an important political leader of the Indian independence movement. In his youth, he adopted the pen name, ‘Azad’ and was popularly addressed simply as Maulana Azad.
Abul Kalam Azad was born in the year 1888 in Mecca, in modern-day Saudi Arabia, into a family of prosperous and learned Muslim scholars, or maulanas.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: The Legacy of a Great Indian
His forefathers hailed from Herat, in Afghanistan, and his lineage could be traced back to Babar’s days. Abul Kalam’s father’s name was Maulana Khairuddin, and his mother was the daughter of Sheikh Mohammad Zaher Watri.
In 1890, his father moved to Kolkata (formarly known as Calcutta). Educated according to the traditional curriculum, the young Kalam learnt Arabic and Persian at first and then philosophy, geometry, and algebra.
He was taught at home, first by his father, and later by appointed teachers who were eminent in their respective fields. Sensing that English was fast becoming the international language, Abul Kalam taught himself to read, write and speak the language.As he adapted to the changing opportunities of his time, he also adopted the pen name, “Azad” to signify his freedom from the traditional Muslim ways of his ancestors.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
The freedom of his mind turned him naturally towards the great enterprise of the day, the struggle for independence. Azad was introduced to the freedom struggle by revolutionary Shyam Sunder Chakravarthy.
Most revolutionaries in Bengal were Hindus, and many were greatly surprised by his willingness to join the freedom struggle alongwith them, while others were skeptical of his intentions.
Azad also discovered that the revolutionary activities were mostly restricted to Bengal and Bihar. Creating his own niche within the movement, he helped to set up secret revolutionary centres all over North India and in Bombay (now Mumbai).
Easy Life Story Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
Most revolutionaries of the day were anti-Muslim, because they felt that the British Government was using the Muslim community against India’s freedom struggle.
Azad tried to convince his colleagues that indifference and hostility towards the Muslims would only make the path to freedom more difficult. Abul Kalam Azad began the publication of a journal called Al Hilal (The Crescent), in June 1912, to increase the revolutionary recruits amongst the Muslims.
The energy of his efforts paid off, and Al Hilal’s circulation passed 25,000 within two years, before the heavy hand of the British Government used the Press Act and then the Defence of India Regulations Act in 1916, to shut the journal down.
Undeterred, Azad continued his struggle, both for the Independence of India and his vision of an undivided nation in which people of all faiths would live harmoniously. From his earlier revolutionary ways, he now turned to Gandhiji’s popular Civil
Disobedience Movement and joined the Indian National Congress in January 1920. He presided over the special session of the Congress Party in September 1923 and at the age of 35, was the youngest man to be elected as the President of the Congress.
He was arrested in 1930, for violation of the salt laws as part of Gandhiji’s Salt Satyagraha. He was put in Meerut jail for a year and a half. As the British policies of ‘divide and rule’ gained roots in the nation’s social psyche, Azad remained the staunchest opponent of the partition of India.
Partition, he asserted, was against the grain of our nation’s culture, equal to “divorce before marriage! He supported a confederation of autonomous provinces with their own constitutions but common defence and economy, an arrangement suggested in the British Cabinet Mission Plan of May 1946.
Despite his exhortations to fellow Muslims in the pre-Independent India, he was unable to avert partition, which shattered his dream of a unified nation. He was unflinching in his opposition to it until the last, and is remembered best for this.
Following independence, Azad served as the Minister of Education in Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet from 1947 to 1958.
He died in August 1958. In 1992, the government of India posthumously awarded her patriotic son, the highest civilian honour – “the Bharat Ratna’.