Abul Kalam Azad (11 November 1888 – 22 February 1958) was an Indian Muslim scholar, journalist, politician and educationist who served as the first education minister of India. His full name is Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad.
About Abul Kalam Azad
Abul Kalam Azad was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia to a family of Indian Muslims from Jaunpur who had settled in Mecca for a few generations. He lost his mother at an early age and became a “mature young man” under the care of his maternal grandmother.
After going school by American missionaries at Middle Eastern colleges in Jeddah and Beirut, he qualified as a medical doctor from University of Oxford before returning to India in 1915 to take part in national movement against British colonial rule.
Personal life of Azad
He married Aga Mahomed Zebunissa Khatoon in 1906. His twin children were Baba Azad, a poet, writer and educationist (born 1910), and Khairuddin Azad institute of Technology, Patna (born 1917).
Azad’s wife died in 1942. Azad married secondly to Mrs. Ayesha Azad Begum on 23 April 1941 and had issues with her: Abul Kalam Azad, Iffat Fatima Azam and Fatima Haan Garib Nawaz. He died on 22 February 1958 in New Delhi at the age of 68 due to heart-attack/stroke following “brisk walking” in the afternoon.
Abul Kalam Azad started his journalism career in 1906 by delivering lectures about the social, economical and political problems of the Indian Muslims. He was arrest in 1907 for editing Urdu columns named ‘Naya Khilafat’ and ‘Al-Hakam’ in a renowned newspaper Al-Wahdah.
In 1908 Azad acquired a BA degree from King’s College London through an open entrance exam. He acquired MA (Political Economy) and MSc (Political Science) in 1910. In 1912 he acquired LLB and BCL degrees through open exams from Emmanuel College, Cambridge University.
Azad started legal practice at Calcutta High Court but quit to join politics.
Struggle for Indian Independence
Zafar Ali Khan, leader of the “Khilafat Movement” had invited Abul Kalam Azad to participate in his movement. Azad was a member of the Indian National Congress and with Maulana Mohammad Ali (1883–1938) he established Muslim League.
In 1917 Azad participated in the Round Table Conference prepared by Montagu Norman and the British Labour Government. The conference aimed at gaining support from Indian Muslims for acceptance of the partition of India into separate independent countries for Muslims and Hindus. The Muslim League insisted on the separate statehood not only for Muslims but also for other religious minorities like Christians and Sikhs along with full civil rights to all their citizens including the right to property ownership.
Al-Hilal and Khilafat movement
In 1932 Azad started the Urdu weekly newspaper Al-Hilal. He established a publishing company named Maktab Al-Istiqlal (National Education) to publish books for students, schools and colleges in 1936. In 1946 he established Iqbal Qur’an Teachers’ Training Institute at Delhi.
Abul Kalam Azad became the first education minister of India from 1947-1948. During his tenure in 1952, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board was creat under the leadership of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
Abul Kalam Azad participate in the non-cooperation movement of 1921 and was arrest in 1923. He participated in the Salt Satyagraha of 1930 and was imprisoned for one year. In 1940, Azad was arrested during the “Quit India” movement begun by Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore, he was imprisoned for a period of 2 years.
In 1942, Azad led an agitation against the British government’s decision to separate Sind from Bombay Presidency, this agitation was called as “Sindh Satyagraha.”
Azad became a member of Constituent Assembly on 26 January 1947 and on 3 June 1949 he became the first Minister for Education of India.
In 1951 Abul Kalam Azad became “Congress Parliamentary Party” leader and deputy leader of Congress party in Lok Sabha (lower house of the Parliament of India).
In 1957, he was appoint as the “Vice-President” of Indian National Congress. Later on 7 December 1958 he was appoint as the President of Indian National Congress.
Azad died on 22 February 1958 in Delhi at the age of 69 following a heart attack after “brisk walking”. His remains were burry in Purana Qila, Delhi by his son Mohammed Ahmed Zebunissa Azad.
Quit India Movement
In 1942 Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Mohammad Ali launched a civil disobedience movement against the British government’s decision to separate Sind from Bombay Presidency. Therefore, this agitation was call as “Sindh Satyagraha”. Therefore, Maulana Mohammad Ali was arrest in 1942 and Azad in early 1943.
In 1945, General Muhammad Iqbal Khan requested British Government to release Altaf Hussain Hali. Who was one of the prominent leader of this movement.
After independence, political activists wanted Azad’s name included in the list of national leaders. Along with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, but Azad refused that.
Partition of India
In 1947, Abul Kalam Azad participated in the “Partition of India”. Therefore, he file a case against the British Government for not fulfilling promises made in 1916 regarding privileges to Muslims.
In 1948 Azad was accuse of corrupt practices and fraud in the “Kakori Train Robbery Case” and was imprison. However, after 3 months in jail, he was release on bail.
Azad was elect as President of Indian National Congress in 1957.
Azad died on 22 February 1958 following a heart attack after “brisk walking”. However, his remains were bur in Purana Qila, Delhi by his son Mohammed Ahmed Zebunissa Azad.
After independence, Abul Kalam Azad became the “Education Minister” of India. Therefore, to continue his struggle for education and to give the name to this school he established Iqbal Qur’an Teachers’ Training Institute (IQTI) at Delhi.
He was instrumental in the establishment of Jamia Millia Islamia. Therefore, in January 1946, Mussalman Sindh Education Conference was held in Karachi. Therefore, it was decided that a Sindhi Language Authority be set up. However, that Urdu should not replace Sindhi as the official language of Sindh without consulting the people of the province. Therefore, the Government agreed to abide by these decisions.