85 Facts About Abul Kalam Azad


Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad was an Indian independence activist, Islamic theologian, writer and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress.

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Abul Kalam Azad is commonly remembered as Maulana Azad; the word Maulana is an honorific meaning 'Our Master' and he had adopted Azad as his pen name.

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Abul Kalam Azad rose to prominence through his work as a journalist, publishing works critical of the British Raj and espousing the causes of Indian nationalism.

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Abul Kalam Azad became the leader of the Khilafat Movement, during which he came into close contact with the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi.

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Abul Kalam Azad became an enthusiastic supporter of Gandhi's ideas of non-violent civil disobedience, and worked to organise the non-co-operation movement in protest of the 1919 Rowlatt Acts.

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Abul Kalam Azad committed himself to Gandhi's ideals, including promoting Swadeshi products and the cause of Swaraj for India.

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In October 1920, Azad was elected as a member of foundation committee to establish Jamia Millia Islamia at Aligarh in U P without taking help from British colonial government.

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Abul Kalam Azad assisted in shifting the campus of the university from Aligarh to New Delhi in 1934.

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Abul Kalam Azad was one of the main organizers of the Dharasana Satyagraha in 1931, and emerged as one of the most important national leaders of the time, prominently leading the causes of Hindu–Muslim unity as well as espousing secularism and socialism.

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Abul Kalam Azad served as Congress president from 1940 to 1945, during which the Quit India rebellion was launched.

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Abul Kalam Azad worked for Hindu–Muslim unity through the Al-Hilal newspaper.

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Abul Kalam Azad was born on 11 November 1888 in Mecca, then a part of the Ottoman Empire, now a part of Saudi Arabia.

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Abul Kalam Azad's father was a Muslim scholar of Afghan ancestry, who lived in Delhi with his maternal grandfather, as his father had died at a very young age.

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Abul Kalam Azad was trained in the Mazahibs of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali fiqh, Shariat, mathematics, philosophy, world history, and science by tutors hired by his family.

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An avid and determined student, the precocious Abul Kalam Azad was running a library, a reading room, and a debating society before he was twelve; wanted to write on the life of Al-Ghazali at twelve; was contributing learned articles to Makhzan at fourteen; was teaching a class of students, most of whom were twice his age, when he was fifteen; and completed the traditional course of study at the age of sixteen, nine years ahead of his contemporaries, and brought out a magazine at the same age.

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Abul Kalam Azad contributed articles to Urdu magazines and journals such as Makhzan, Ahsanul Akhbar, and Khadang e Nazar.

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Abul Kalam Azad then joined Al Nadwa, the Islamic theological journal of the Nadwatu l-Ulama on Shibli Nomani's invitation.

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Abul Kalam Azad worked as editor of Vakil, a newspaper from Amritsar from April 1906 to November 1906.

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Abul Kalam Azad shifted to Calcutta for a brief period where he was associated with Dar-ul-Saltunat.

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Abul Kalam Azad returned to Amritsar after few months and resumed the editorship of Vakil, continuing to work there until July 1908.

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Abul Kalam Azad developed political views considered radical for most Muslims of the time and became a full-fledged Indian nationalist.

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Against common Muslim opinion of the time, Abul Kalam Azad opposed the partition of Bengal in 1905 and became increasingly active in revolutionary activities, to which he was introduced by the prominent Hindu revolutionaries Aurobindo Ghosh and Shyam Sundar Chakravarty.

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Abul Kalam Azad initially evoked surprise from other revolutionaries, but Abul Kalam Azad won their praise and confidence by working secretly to organise revolutionaries activities and meetings in Bengal, Bihar and Bombay.

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Abul Kalam Azad established an Urdu weekly newspaper in 1912 called Al-Hilal from Calcutta, and openly attacked British policies while exploring the challenges facing common people.

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Abul Kalam Azad's Al-Hilal was consequently banned in 1914 under the Press Act.

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Abul Kalam Azad's work helped improve the relationship between Hindus and Muslims in Bengal, which had been soured by the controversy surrounding the partition of Bengal and the issue of separate communal electorates.

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Abul Kalam Azad saw an opportunity to energise Indian Muslims and achieve major political and social reform through the struggle.

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Abul Kalam Azad started a new journal, the Al-Balagh, which got banned in 1916 under the Defence of India Regulations Act and he was arrested.

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The governments of the Bombay Presidency, United Provinces, Punjab and Delhi prohibited his entry into the provinces and Abul Kalam Azad was moved to a jail in Ranchi, where he was incarcerated until 1 January 1920.

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Abul Kalam Azad joined the Congress and was elected president of the All India Khilafat Committee.

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Abul Kalam Azad adopted the Islamic prophet Muhammad's ideas by living simply, rejecting material possessions and pleasures.

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Abul Kalam Azad began to spin his own clothes using khadi on the charkha, and began frequently living and participating in the ashrams organised by Gandhi.

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Abul Kalam Azad strongly criticised the continuing suspicion of the Congress amongst the Muslim intellectuals from the Aligarh Muslim University and the Muslim League.

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Abul Kalam Azad led efforts to organise the Flag Satyagraha in Nagpur.

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Abul Kalam Azad served as president of the 1924 Unity Conference in Delhi, using his position to work to re-unite the Swarajists and the Khilafat leaders under the common banner of the Congress.

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Abul Kalam Azad served on the Congress Working Committee and in the offices of general secretary and president many times.

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In 1928, Abul Kalam Azad endorsed the Nehru Report, which was criticised by the Ali brothers and Muslim League politician Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

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Abul Kalam Azad endorsed the ending of separate electorates based on religion, and called for an independent India to be committed to secularism.

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At the 1928 Congress session in Guwahati, Abul Kalam Azad endorsed Gandhi's call for dominion status for India within a year.

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Abul Kalam Azad developed a close friendship with Nehru and began espousing socialism as the means to fight inequality, poverty and other national challenges.

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Abul Kalam Azad was a friend of Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari, founder of All India Majlis-e-Ahrar.

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When Gandhi embarked on the Dandi Salt March that inaugurated the Salt Satyagraha in 1930, Abul Kalam Azad organised and led the nationalist raid, albeit non-violent on the Dharasana salt works to protest the salt tax and restriction of its production and sale.

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The biggest nationalist upheaval in a decade, Abul Kalam Azad was imprisoned along with millions of people, and would frequently be jailed from 1930 to 1934 for long periods of time.

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When elections were called under the Government of India Act 1935, Abul Kalam Azad was appointed to organise the Congress election campaign, raising funds, selecting candidates and organising volunteers and rallies across India.

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Abul Kalam Azad had criticised the Act for including a high proportion of un-elected members in the central legislature, and did not himself contest a seat.

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Abul Kalam Azad again declined to contest elections in 1937, and helped head the party's efforts to organise elections and preserve co-ordination and unity amongst the Congress governments elected in different provinces.

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At the 1936 Congress session in Lucknow, Azad was drawn into a dispute with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Dr Rajendra Prasad and C Rajagopalachari regarding the espousal of socialism as the Congress goal.

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Abul Kalam Azad had backed the election of Nehru as Congress president, and supported the resolution endorsing socialism.

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Abul Kalam Azad supported Nehru's re-election in 1937, at the consternation of many conservative Congressmen.

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Abul Kalam Azad supported dialogue with Jinnah and the Muslim League between 1935 and 1937 over a Congress-League coalition and broader political co-operation.

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Less inclined to brand the League as obstructive, Abul Kalam Azad nevertheless joined the Congress's vehement rejection of Jinnah's demand that the League be seen exclusively as the representative of Indian Muslims.

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In 1938, Abul Kalam Azad served as an intermediary between the supporters of and the Congress faction led by Congress president Subhash Bose, who criticised Gandhi for not launching another rebellion against the British and sought to move the Congress away from Gandhi's leadership.

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Abul Kalam Azad stood by Gandhi with most other Congress leaders, but reluctantly endorsed the Congress's exit from the assemblies in 1939 following the inclusion of India in World War II.

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Muslim religious and political leaders criticised Abul Kalam Azad as being too close to the Congress and placing politics before Muslim welfare.

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Abul Kalam Azad was wary and sceptical of the idea, aware that India's Muslims were increasingly looking to Jinnah and had supported the war.

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On 7 August 1942 at the Gowalia Tank in Mumbai, Congress president Abul Kalam Azad inaugurated the struggle with a vociferous speech exhorting Indians into action.

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Abul Kalam Azad occupied the time playing bridge and acting as the referee in tennis matches played by his colleagues.

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All political prisoners were released in 1946 and Abul Kalam Azad led the Congress in the elections for the new Constituent Assembly of India, which would draft India's constitution.

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Abul Kalam Azad headed the delegation to negotiate with the British Cabinet Mission, in his sixth year as Congress president.

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Additionally, the proposal called for the "grouping" of provinces on religious lines, which would informally band together the Muslim-majority provinces in the West as Group B, Muslim-majority provinces of Bengal and Assam as Group C and the rest of India as Group A While Gandhi and others expressed scepticism of this clause, Azad argued that Jinnah's demand for Pakistan would be buried and the concerns of the Muslim community would be assuaged.

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Abul Kalam Azad managed to win Jinnah's agreement to the proposal citing the greater good of all Indian Muslims.

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Abul Kalam Azad had been the Congress president since 1939, so he volunteered to resign in 1946.

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Abul Kalam Azad nominated Nehru, who replaced him as Congress president and led the Congress into the interim government.

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Thousands of people were killed as Abul Kalam Azad travelled across Bengal and Bihar to calm the tensions and heal relations between Muslims and Hindus.

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Later in his autobiography, Abul Kalam Azad indicated Patel having become more pro-partition than the Muslim League, largely due to the League's not co-operating with the Congress in the provisional government on any issue.

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Abul Kalam Azad privately discussed the proposal with Gandhi, Patel and Nehru, but despite his opposition was unable to deny the popularity of the League and the unworkability of any coalition with the League.

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Abul Kalam Azad, committed to a united India until his last attempt, was condemned by the advocates of Pakistan, especially the Muslim League.

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Abul Kalam Azad took up responsibility for the safety of Muslims in India, touring affected areas in Bengal, Bihar, Assam and the Punjab, guiding the organisation of refugee camps, supplies and security.

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Abul Kalam Azad gave speeches to large crowds encouraging peace and calm in the border areas and encouraging Muslims across the country to remain in India and not fear for their safety and security.

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In Cabinet meetings and discussions with Gandhi, Patel and Abul Kalam Azad clashed over security issues in Delhi and Punjab, as well as the allocation of resources for relief and rehabilitation.

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Patel argued that a secular government could not offer preferential treatment for any religious community, while Abul Kalam Azad remained anxious to assure the rehabilitation of Muslims in India, secularism, religious freedom and equality for all Indians.

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Abul Kalam Azad supported provisions for Muslim citizens to make avail of Muslim personal law in courts.

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Abul Kalam Azad remained a close confidante, supporter and advisor to prime minister Nehru, and played an important role in framing national policies.

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Abul Kalam Azad masterminded the creation of national programmes of school and college construction and spreading the enrolment of children and young adults into schools, to promote universal primary education.

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Abul Kalam Azad spent the final years of his life focusing on writing his book India Wins Freedom, an exhaustive account of India's freedom struggle and its leaders, which was published in 1959.

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Abul Kalam Azad 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".

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Abul Kalam Azad wrote many books including India Wins Freedom, Ghubar-e-Khatir, Tazkirah, Tarjumanul Quran, etc.

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Ghubar-e-Khatir, is one of the most important works of Abul Kalam Azad, written primarily during 1942 to 1946 when he was imprisoned in Ahmednagar Fort in Maharashtra by British Raj while he was in Bombay to preside over the meeting of All India Congress Working Committee.

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Abul Kalam Azad was born in Mekkah, given formal education in Persian and Arabic languages but he was never taught Urdu.

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Abul Kalam Azad's home housed the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies earlier, and is the Maulana Azad Museum.

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Abul Kalam Azad is celebrated as one of the founders and greatest patrons of the Jamia Millia Islamia.

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Abul Kalam Azad's tomb is a major landmark and receives large numbers of visitors annually.

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Mahatma Gandhi remarked about Abul Kalam Azad by counting him as "a person of the calibre of Plato, Aristotle and Pythagorus".

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Abul Kalam Azad was portrayed by actor Virendra Razdan in the 1982 biographical film, Gandhi, directed by Richard Attenborough.

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Television series, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, aired on DD National in the 1990s and starred Mangal Dhillon in the titular role.

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