Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was an Indian scholar, activist and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was an Indian scholar, activist and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement. His real name was Maulana Sayyid Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad. He became the First Minister of Education in the Indian government Minister of Human Resource Development after India got independence. 


He is commonly remembered as Maulana Azad. The word Maulana is an honorific meaning 'Our Master', and he had adopted Azad (Free) as his pen name. His contribution to establishing the education foundation in India is recognised by celebrating his birthday as 'National Education Day' across India. He was born on November 11th, 1888 and died on February 22nd, 1958.


Childhood of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad:

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was born as Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin on November 11th, 1888 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia to Maulana Muhammad Khairuddin and Zulaikha Begum. His father Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Khairuddin bin Ahmed AlHussaini wrote twelve books, had thousands of disciples, and claimed noble ancestry. His mother was Sheikha Alia bint Mohammad, who himself was a reputed scholar from Medina who had a reputation that extended even outside of Arabia.


Education of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad:

Since an early age, he became multi-linguist, mastering numerous languages such as Urdu, Hindi, Persian, Bengali, English and Arabic. He received tutelage in Hanbali fiqh, shariat, mathematics, philosophy, world history and science. At a young age, he brought out several journals, served as an editor of the weekly Al-Misbah and reinterpreted the holy Quran, the Hadith and the principles of Fiqh and Kalam.


Family of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad:

He married at a young age of thirteen to Zulaikha Begum.


Some facts about Maulana Abul Kalam Azad:

  • Despite being trained as a clergyman, he did not take up clerical duties and instead decided to work along with Hindu revolutionaries in the freedom struggle.
  • In 1912, he started the Urdu weekly newspaper, Al-Hilal, through which he openly attacked the British policies and fervently wrote articles on Indian nationalism.
  • He was posthumously conferred with the prestigious Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award in 1992 for his unsurpassable contribution as a nationalist revolutionary, and his constant support for a vision of united and free India.
  • Despite being a Muslim, he strongly condemned communal separatism and was against Muhammmad Jinnah and his viewpoints.
  • The Government of India set up the Maulana Azad Education Foundation in 1989 on his birth anniversary to promote education amongst the socially backward class. His birthday is celebrated every years as National Education Day in India.
  • Numerous schools, colleges and institutions in India have been named after him. Some of them are the Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology in Bhopal, the Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad, Maulana Azad Centre for Elementary and Social Education (MACESE Delhi University), the Maulana Azad College, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, in Kolkata, Bab-e-Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (Gate No. 7), Jamia Millia Islamia, A Central (Minority) University in New Delhi, the Maulana Azad library in the Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh and Maulana Azad Stadium in Jammu.
  • His home housed the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies earlier, and is now the Maulana Azad Museum.
  • He is celebrated as one of the founders and greatest patrons of Jamia Milia Islamia University.
  • He breathed his last on February 22, 1958 due to stroke.



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