|Maulana Abul Kalam Muhiyuddin
Ahmed (11 November 1888 – 22 February 1958) was a Muslim scholar and a
senior political leader of the Indian independence movement. He was one
of the most prominent Muslim leaders to support Hindu-Muslim unity, opposing
the partition of India on communal lines. Following India's independence,
he became the first Minister of Education in the Indian government. He
is commonly remembered as Maulana Azad; he had adopted Azad (Free) as his
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was
born in the year 1888 in Mecca. His forefather's came from Herat (a city
in Afghanistan) in Babar's days. Azad was a descendent of a lineage of
learned Muslim scholars, or maulanas. His father's name was Maulana Khairuddin
and his mother was the daughter of Sheikh Mohammad Zaher Watri.
In 1890, Azad's father
moved to Calcutta. Educated according to the traditional curriculum, Azad
learned Arabic and Persian first and then philosophy, geometry, mathematics
and algebra. He was taught at home, first by his father, later by appointed
teachers who were eminent in their respective fields. Seeing that English
was fast becoming the international language, Azad taught himself to read,
write and speak the language. He adopted the pen name "Azad" to signify
his freedom from traditional Muslim ways.
Azad was introduced to the
freedom struggle by revolutionary Shri Shyam Sunder Chakravarthy. Most
revolutionaries in Bengal were Hindus. Azad greatly surprised his fellow
Hindu revolutionaries with his willingness to join the freedom struggle.
At first his peers were skeptical of his intentions.
Azad found the revolutionary
activities restricted to Bengal and Bihar. Within two years, Azad helped
setup secret revolutionary centers all over north India and Bombay.
Most revolutionaries were
anti-Muslim because they felt that the British Government was using the
Muslim community against India's freedom struggle. Azad tried to convince
his colleagues that indifference and hostility toward the Muslims would
only make the path to freedom more difficult.