Biography of Abul Kalam Azad: A Visionary Leader, Scholar, and Patriot

Early Life and Education (1888-1905)

Abul Kalam Azad was born on November 11, 1888, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to Maulana Syed Mohammad Khairuddin and his wife, the daughter of a respected scholar. His early life was marked by a deep connection to Islamic studies and Arabic literature. Azad’s father, a renowned scholar and theologian, played a significant role in shaping his intellectual curiosity. He received his early education from his father, learning Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, as well as the Quran and Hadith.

In 1905, Azad traveled to Cairo, Egypt, to pursue higher education at Jamia Azhar, one of the oldest and most prestigious Islamic institutions in the world. There, he delved into Eastern knowledge systems, studying theology, philosophy, and literature. This exposure broadened his perspective and laid the foundation for his future endeavors.

Journalistic and Political Career (1912-1947)

Azad returned to India in 1912 and settled in Calcutta, where he began his journalistic, scholastic, and political pursuits. He launched the illustrated weekly Al-Hilal, which quickly gained a massive following (52,000 copies) due to its thought-provoking content and critique of British colonial rule. However, the British government banned Al-Hilal in 1914, deeming it a threat to their authority.

Undeterred, Azad started Al-Balagh, another publication that reiterated his nationalist and patriotic views. He also published Paigham, Lisan-us-Sidq, and contributed to Wakeel and Amritsar, showcasing his prolific writing skills and commitment to the freedom struggle.

Azad’s political activism led him to participate in the Non-Cooperation movement, Quit India movement, and Khilafat Movement. He developed strong bonds with Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, Hakim Ajmal Khan, and Ali brothers, united in their quest for Indian independence. Inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, Azad traveled extensively, propagating his ideas and ideals.

Leadership and Legacy (1947-1958)

Azad emerged as a prominent national leader, serving as the President of the Congress party and playing a crucial role in shaping India’s future. After India’s independence in 1947, he became the country’s first Minister of Education, dedicating himself to shaping policy and establishing the education system. He founded institutions like the University Grants Commission, showcasing his vision for liberal and technical education and culture.

Azad was a prolific writer, poet, and essayist, penning works like Ghubaar-e-Khatir, Tazkira, and Tarjuman-ul-Quran. His letters, written during imprisonment, offer valuable insights into his life and preoccupations. He was also a remarkable prose stylist and commentator on the Holy Quran.

Personal Life and Family

Azad’s wife, Zuleikha Begum, was a pillar of strength throughout his political journey. She stood by him during his imprisonment and supported his endeavors, exemplifying her own contribution to the freedom struggle.

Awards and Recognition

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s contributions earned him the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, in 1958. He passed away on February 22, 1958, and lies buried in Jama Masjid, Urdu Bazar, Delhi. Azad’s legacy as a visionary politician, journalist, prose stylist, and commentator on the Holy Quran continues to inspire generations.

Major Works

– Ghubaar-e-Khatir
– Tazkira
– Tarjuman-ul-Quran

Associations and Movements

– Non-Cooperation movement
– Quit India movement
– Khilafat Movement
– Congress party

Institutions Founded

– University Grants Commission
– Technical, research, and cultural institutions

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