Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958): Champion of Unity, Secularity and Equality

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad upsc notes

I. Introduction

During the period of British rule in India, several prominent leaders emerged, including CR Das, Motilal Nehru, Dada Bhai Naoroji, and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad. Maulana Azad, born on November 11, 1888, in Mecca, was a scholar, theologian, and key figure in the Indian National Congress during the country’s independence movement. Known for his intellectual prowess, Maulana Azad played a crucial role in promoting the ideals of secularism, socialism, and Hindu-Muslim unity. His unwavering commitment to the nation, fearlessness in the face of adversity, and tireless efforts to build a united and independent India left a lasting legacy.

II. Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad: Who was he?

A. Full name and honorifics

  • Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, also known as Maulana Azad, was his commonly used name.
  • His full name was Sayyid Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al Hussaini Azad.
  • The honorific “Maulana” is a term of respect meaning “Our Master” and was adopted by Azad.

B. Birthdate and birthplace

  • Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad was born on November 11, 1888, in Mecca, which is located in present-day Saudi Arabia.
  • His father was Muhammad Khairuddin, a Bengali Muslim scholar of Afghan ancestry, and his mother was Sheikha Alia bint Mohammad, the daughter of Sheikh Mohammad bin Zaher Alwatri, a reputed scholar from Medina. copyright©

C. Early life and education

  1. Traditional Islamic education and upbringing
  • Azad’s early life was influenced by his orthodox family background, and he received a traditional Islamic education.
  • He was initially homeschooled by his father and later received education from various teachers.
  • Azad’s father, a scholar himself, taught him at home and guided him in his religious and academic pursuits.
  1. Interest in literature, poetry, and philosophy
  • From a young age, Azad developed a keen interest in literature, poetry, and philosophy.
  • He composed poetry in Urdu during his teenage years and wrote extensively on religion and philosophy.
  • While working as a journalist, Azad published articles criticizing British rule, which led him to become involved in the Indian independence movement.
  1. Self-education and diverse knowledge acquisition
  • Azad was a self-taught individual who sought knowledge beyond his traditional Islamic education.
  • He learned Arabic and Persian languages during his teens and studied subjects like geometry, mathematics, philosophy, and algebra.
  • Azad also had a deep interest in world history, English, and politics, broadening his intellectual horizons.
  • His passion for learning led him to establish a library, a debating society, and a reading room at a young age.

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III. Maulana Azad’s Role in the Indian National Congress

A. Introduction to his involvement in the Congress copyright©

  • Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad played a significant role in the Indian National Congress during the Indian Independence movement.
  • He joined the Congress and became actively involved in the party’s activities, contributing his intellect, leadership, and vision to the cause of independence.

B. Relationship with other Congress leaders

  1. Friendship with Jawaharlal Nehru and support for socialism
  • Maulana Azad developed a close friendship with Jawaharlal Nehru, another prominent Congress leader.
  • He aligned himself with Nehru’s socialist ideology and supported the idea of a socially just and equitable society.
  1. Collaboration with Mahatma Gandhi and adoption of non-violence
  • Maulana Azad was deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of non-violence and his approach to fighting British rule.
  • He became an enthusiastic supporter of Gandhi and worked closely with him in various freedom movement activities.

C. Maulana Azad’s contributions to the Congress

  1. Election campaign organization and rallies
  • Maulana Azad played a crucial role in organizing election campaigns for the Congress.
  • He raised funds, selected trustworthy candidates, and mobilized volunteers to spread awareness about the importance of elections.
  • Maulana Azad held numerous rallies across India, aiming to educate and engage the common people in the democratic process.
  1. Efforts for Hindu-Muslim unity and coalition building copyright©
  • One of Maulana Azad’s primary objectives was to foster Hindu-Muslim unity within the Congress and the broader Indian society.
  • He worked tirelessly to bridge the gaps between the two communities, promoting harmony and mutual understanding.
  • Maulana Azad engaged in discussions and negotiations with leaders of the Muslim League, aiming to establish political cooperation and alleviate communal tensions.
  1. Positions held within the Congress
  • Maulana Azad served in various key positions within the Indian National Congress.
  • He was a member of the Congress Working Committee and held offices such as general secretary and president.
  • Azad’s leadership and contributions played a significant role in shaping the Congress’s policies and direction during the freedom struggle.

IV. Maulana Azad as a Freedom Fighter

A. Influence of revolutionary activities and encounters

  1. Meeting with Aurobindo Ghosh and Shyam Sundar Chakravarty

    • Maulana Azad had a significant encounter with revolutionary figures Aurobindo Ghosh and Shyam Sundar Chakravarty from Bengal.
    • This encounter deeply influenced him and sparked his interest in the freedom movement against British rule in India.
  2. Inspiration to join the freedom movement

    • Inspired by the revolutionary ideas he encountered, Maulana Azad made the decision to actively participate in the freedom struggle.
    • He realized the importance of fighting for India’s independence and sought to contribute his efforts towards this cause. copyright©

B. Role in the Khilafat Movement

  1. Support for Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent approach

    • Maulana Azad was moved by Mahatma Gandhi‘s philosophy of non-violence as a means to achieve independence.
    • He embraced and supported Gandhi’s approach, which emphasized peaceful resistance against British rule.
  2. Efforts to unite the Muslim community against British rule

    • Maulana Azad played a significant role in the Khilafat Movement, which aimed to defend the Ottoman Sultan as the head of the Muslim community.
    • He worked tirelessly to rally support from the Muslim community and unite them in their resistance against British colonialism.

C. Participation in major movements and campaigns

  1. Organizing the Dharasana Satyagraha in 1931

    • Maulana Azad was instrumental in organizing the Dharasana Satyagraha, a major non-violent protest against the salt laws imposed by the British.
    • This satyagraha involved a peaceful raid on the Dharasana salt works to protest the unfair salt tax and restrictions on its production and sales.
  2. Imprisonment during the Salt Satyagraha and Quit India movement

    • Maulana Azad actively participated in both the Salt Satyagraha and the Quit India movement.
    • Due to his involvement in these movements, he faced imprisonment by the British authorities.
    • He willingly endured imprisonment as a form of resistance, standing up for the principles of Indian nationalism and freedom. copyright©
  3. Advocacy for Indian nationalism and anti-partition stance

    • Throughout his freedom struggle, Maulana Azad advocated for Indian nationalism and worked tirelessly to maintain the unity of the Indian subcontinent.
    • He vehemently opposed the idea of partition and worked towards a unified India, where people from all communities could coexist and thrive.

V. Maulana Azad’s Legacy and Impact

A. Post-independence career and contributions

  1. Role as the first Minister of Education in independent India
    • Maulana Azad served as the first Minister of Education in independent India, playing a crucial role in shaping the educational landscape of the country.
    • He focused on improving access to education, especially for rural communities, and emphasized the importance of education for women.
    • Maulana Azad also promoted vocational training to empower individuals with practical skills for economic development.

B. Literary works and intellectual pursuits

  1. Autobiographies, political writings, and religious works

    • Maulana Azad authored several influential works, including his autobiography “India Wins Freedom,” providing a comprehensive account of India’s freedom struggle and its leaders.
    • He also wrote extensively on politics, advocating for secularism, religious freedom, and equality for all Indians.
    • Additionally, Maulana Azad delved into religious works, offering insights into the origin of religions, music’s place in religious practices, and philosophical thoughts. copyright©
  2. Ghubar-e-Khatir: A unique collection of letters and philosophical thoughts

    • Maulana Azad’s “Ghubar-e-Khatir” is a remarkable compilation of letters written during his imprisonment, addressing philosophical concepts and spiritual reflections.
    • This work delves into complex subjects such as the existence of God, the origins of religions, and the significance of music in religious contexts.
  3. Tazkirah: A work on religion and philosophy, showcasing Azad’s deep understanding and contemplation.
  4. Tarjumanul Quran: Azad’s interpretation and translation of the Quran, providing insights into its teachings and principles.

C. Commemorations and recognition

  1. Establishing the Maulana Azad Education Foundation

    • The Maulana Azad Education Foundation was established in 1989 by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in India to promote education among educationally backward sections of society.
    • The foundation aims to provide financial assistance and support educational initiatives for marginalized communities.
  2. Institutions and landmarks named in his honor

    • Numerous institutions across India bear the name of Maulana Azad, honoring his contributions. These include the Maulana Azad Medical College, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, and Maulana Azad National Urdu University, among others.
    • Landmarks such as the Maulana Azad Museum and Maulana Azad Stadium also pay tribute to his legacy.
  3. National Education Day in India

    • November 11th, Maulana Azad’s birth anniversary, is celebrated as National Education Day in India to commemorate his contributions to education. copyright©
    • The day serves as a reminder of the importance of education in shaping a nation’s progress and development.

D. Personal qualities and leadership attributes

  1. High integrity and respect

    • Maulana Azad was highly regarded for his integrity and held in high esteem by his contemporaries.
    • His commitment to his principles and values earned him the respect and admiration of fellow freedom fighters and political leaders.
  2. Fearless attitude and commitment to the nation

    • Maulana Azad exhibited immense courage and fearlessness in the face of adversity during the freedom struggle.
    • He dedicated his life to the cause of Indian independence, demonstrating unwavering commitment and resilience.
  3. Vision for a united and secular India

    • Maulana Azad envisioned a united India that embraced diversity, promoting the principles of secularism and equal rights for all citizens.
    • He worked tirelessly to foster Hindu-Muslim unity and advocated for a society where individuals of all religious backgrounds could live harmoniously.

VI. Conclusion

In conclusion, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad’s life and contributions stand as a testament to his unwavering commitment to education, freedom, and the unity of the Indian nation. As the first Minister of Education in independent India, he championed the cause of rural education, women’s empowerment, and vocational training. His literary works, including his autobiography India Wins Freedom and the unique collection of letters in Ghubar-e-Khatir, showcase his intellectual depth and philosophical insights. Maulana Azad’s legacy is commemorated through institutions, landmarks, and the observance of National Education Day. His personal qualities of integrity, fearlessness, and vision for a united and secular India continue to inspire and shape the nation’s journey towards progress and inclusivity. copyright©


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