Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

 

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, born on November 11, 1888 in Mecca, was a distinguished scholar, a great poet, a true freedom fighter and independent India’s first Education Minister. He was the son of Maulana Khaiiruddin and Aliyah. His father left India during Sepoy Mutiny and settled in Mecca. In 1890, he along with his family returned to India and settled down in Calcutta.

Maulana Azad pursued traditional Islamic education at home and learned many different languages. He was imbued with the pan-Islamic spirit and visited many places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. In these places he met many exiled revolutionaries, patriotic leaders, freedom fighters and other political members who influenced Azad with their revolutionary activities. He then imbibed patriotism and was metamorphosed into a nationalist revolutionary.

After returning back to India, he joined the revolutionary movement under Aurbindo Ghosh and Sri Shyam Sunder Chakravarthy. He also opened secret revolutionary centers all over North India and in Bombay. Azad convinced the Muslim revolutionaries to fight for India’s freedom rather than fighting for anti-Muslim causes. In 1912, he started a weekly journal to propagate Indian nationalism and revolutionary ideas based on Hindu-Muslim unity. This weekly proved to be a threat to British Empire and so he was expelled from Calcutta in 1916 and was released in 1920 after the First World War.

After his release he actively participated in Khilafat Movement, Non Cooperation Movement and Salt Stayagraha. He was imprisoned several times but this could not stop him from fighting for freedom struggle. He was a strong opponent of Hindu Muslim separation and the day partition took place his dream of a unified nation was shattered.

In 1947, Maulana Azad was appointed as the Minister of Education in the cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru. He served the country till 1958 and on February 22, 1958 died of a stroke.

He received India's highest civilian decoration, the Bharat Ratna, in 1992.

 
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