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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 in 1920.
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.