Friday, November 12, 2010

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad


Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was born on November 11, 1888 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. A leading figure in India's struggle for freedom, apart from being a noted writer, poet and journalist, he adopted the pen name Azad (Free). In his childhood, he had a traditional Islamic education, alongwith training in subjects like mathematics, philosophy, world history and science by tutors at his home. Through his own efforts, he learnt English, alongwith Western philosophy, history and contemporary politics. He visited countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. He opposed the partition of Bengal in 1905. He established an Urdu weekly newspaper in 1912 named Al-Hilal. It was consequently banned in 1914, following which he started a new journal, the Al-Balagh. 

He published many works criticizing the British rule and advocating self-rule for India. It was as a leader of the Khilafat movement that he became close to Mahatma Gandhi. He became the youngest President of the Indian National Congress in 1923.He always supported the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity and opposed the demand for a separate Muslim state of Pakistan. After India's independence, he served as the first Minister for Education. 

As India's first Minister of Education, he emphasized on educating the rural poor and girls. As Chairman of the Central Advisory Board of Education, he gave thrust to adult illiteracy, universal primary education, free and compulsory for all children up to the age of 14, girl’s education, and diversification of secondary education and vocational training.[17] Addressing the conference on All India Education on January 16, 1948, Maulana Azad emphasized,[17]
“We must not for a moment forget, it is a birth right of every individual to receive at least the basic education without which he cannot fully discharge his duties as a citizen.”
He oversaw the setting up of the Central Institute of Education,Delhi which later became the Department of Education of the University of Delhi as “a research centre for solving new educational problems of the country”.[18] Under his leadership, the Ministry of Education established the first Indian Institute of Technology in 1951 and the University Grants Commission in 1953.,[19][20] He also laid emphasis on the development of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Faculty of Technology of the Delhi University.[21] He foresaw a great future in the IITs for India:[21]
"I have no doubt that the establishment of this Institute will form a landmark in the progress of higher technological education and research in the country."
His Birthday, November 11 is celebrated as National Education Day in India.

He served in the Constituent Assembly formed to draft India's constitution and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1952 and in 1957. In 1956, he served as president of the UNESCO General Conference in Delhi. His exhaustive book on India's freedom struggle titled India Wins Freedom was published in 1957. This great leader passed away on February 22, 1958.

ow Others Viewed Maulana Azad

Mahatma Gandhi: “Maulana Azad is the most forceful, truthful, and fearless satyagrahi and fighter against oppression and injustice that I have come across”.
Jawaharlal Nehru: “ Though I am grateful to all my companions, I would like to mention especially Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, whose erudition has delighted me incredibly, and has sometimes overwhelmed me. In Azad along with the good qualities of the past, the graciousness, the deep learning and tolerance, there is a strange and unique mixture of the urges of today and the modern outlook”.
“Maulana Azad was a very special representative in a high degree, of the great composite culture which has gradually grown in India. He represented the synthesis of various cultures which had flown in and lost themselves in the ocean of Indian life and humanity, affecting and changing them and being changed themselves by them. In that sense, I can hardly conceive of any other person who can replace him, because the age which produced him is past.”

Maulana Azad’s Own Views

“I am a Muslim and profoundly conscious of the fact that I have inherited Islam’s glorious tradition of the last fourteen hundred years. I am not prepared to loose even a small part of that legacy. The history and teachings of Islam, its arts and letters, its culture and civilization are part of my wealth and it is my duty to cherish and guard them…… But, with all these feelings, I have another equally deep realization, born out of my life’s experience which is strengthened and not hindered by the Islamic spirit. I am equally proud of the fact that I am an Indian, an essential part of the indivisible unity of the Indian nationhood, a vital factor in its total makeup, without which this noble edifice will remain incomplete.”
“ If the whole world is our country and is to be honored, the dust of India has the first place………. If all mankind are our brothers, then the Indians have the first place.”
“ Not only is our national freedom impossible without Hindu-Muslim unity, we also can not create without it, the primary principles of humanity. If an angel were to tell me: “Discard Hindu-Muslim unity and within 24 hours I will give freedom to India”; I would prefer Hindu-Muslim unity. For the delay in the attainment of freedom will be a loss to India alone, but if the Hindu-Muslim unity disappears, that will be a loss to the whole humanity.”
“ It was India’s historic destiny that many human races, cultures, and religions should flow to her, and that many a caravan should find rest here…….. One of the last of these caravans was that of the followers of Islam. This came here and settled for good. In India everything bears the stamp of the joint endeavors of the Hindus and Muslims. Our languages were different, but we grew to use a common language. Our manners and customs were dissimilar, but they produced a new synthesis. No fantasy or artificial scheming to separate and divide us can break this unity.”


Taufiq said...

Hullo Pooja,

I have been scouring the net about Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who I believe to be a great, great man long ignored.

I have been planning to write of him, and have come to know of him first by his book about the al-fatiha (the opening verse of the Quran). Later I got to know of his companionship to the Mahatma and about his contribution to India.

Heart to heart, I think he is a treasure for those who seek to find love, kindness and mercy, about the past to which we belong, and the future in which we must believe in.

God bless you for your remembrance of him. May the day bring light and fun to you always.


Taufiq Khalid said...

Hullo Pooja!

Ah... after some delay (work/holiday), i have finally managed to knock together some words about the Mawlana... If you are not too busy, drop by! But frankly I am not finished with his story yet... and no doubt Providence will soon compel me to write more about this good Muslim and great Indian!

Salams from Malaysia and happy piloting through the wonderful circus and funfair that we call the world!