Abul Kalam Azad

Indian scholar (1888-1958)

Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad (11 November 1888 – 22 February 1958) was an Indian independence activist, Islamic theologian, writer and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. Following India's independence, he became the First Minister of Education in the Indian government. 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.

Abul Kalam Azad in 1930s

Quotes edit

  • Islam does not command narrowmindedness and racial and religious prejudice. It does not make the recognition of merit and virtue, of human benevolence, mercy and love dependent upon and subject to distinctions of religion and race. It teaches us to respect every man who is good, whatever his religion.
    • Al-Hilal, Nos. 14-15, Vol. II, April 9-16, 1913, as quoted in Rajmohan Gandhi, Eight Lives: A Study of the Hindu-Muslim Encounter (1986), p. 223.
  • I am a Musalman and proud of the fact. Islam’s splendid traditions of thirteen hundred years are my inheritance. I am unwilling to lose even the smallest part of this inheritance. The teaching and history of Islam, its arts and letters and civilization are my wealth and my fortune. It is my duty to protect them.
    I am proud of being an Indian. I am part of the indivisible unity that is Indian nationality. I am indispensable to this noble edifice. Without me this splendid structure of India is incomplete. I am an essential element which has gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim.
    Whether we like it or not, we have now become an Indian nation, united and indivisible. No fantasy or artificial scheming to separate and divide can break this unity. We must accept the logic of fact and history, and engage ourselves in the fashioning of our future destiny.
  • ... Full eleven centuries have passed by since then. Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism. If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousands of years Islam also has been their religion for a thousand years. Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say with equal pride that we are Indians and follow Islam. I shall enlarge this orbit still further. The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity."
    • Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, I.N.C. Session, 1940, Ramgarh . Cited in Huq, Mushirul (23 July 2006). "President Azad" Archived from the original (PHP) on 9 April 2009. Also in R. Gandhi, Muslim mind, p. 237, and Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". p 739
  • [They] would not oppose Gandhiji even when they were not fully convinced, ...were generally content to follow Gandhiji’s lead.... They rarely tried to judge things on their own, and in any case they were accustomed to subordinate their judgment to Gandhiji. As such discussion with them was almost useless. After all our discussions, the only thing they could say was that we must have faith in Gandhiji. They held that if we trusted him he would find some way out.
    • Abul Kalam Azad, quoted from History Of The Freedom Movement In India, RC Majumdar, Volume III, Preface [1]

Quotes about Azad edit

  • A profound scholar and a pillar of India's freedom struggle, his commitment to education was commendable. His efforts in shaping modern India continue to guide many people.
  • Does Jinnah want unity?... What he wants is independence for Muslims and if possible rule over India. That is the old spirit.... But why is it expected that Muslims will be so accommodating? Everywhere minorities are claiming their rights. Of course, there may be some Muslims who are different, more nationalistic in outlook: even [Maulana] Azad has his own terms, only he sees Indian unity first and will settle those terms afterwards.
    • Aurobindo, 1940, India's rebirth, p. 222
  • The greatest 'nationalist Muslim' of our times, Maulana Azad too in his last days gave out his mind in the book India Wins Freedom in unmistakable terms. Firstly the whole of the book, from start to finish, is an unabashed egocentric narration which depicts all other leaders including Gandhiji, Nehru, etc., as simpletons and Patel as a communalist. Secondly, he has not a single word of censure for heinous massacres and atrocities committed by Muslims on Hindus in various places like Calcutta, Noakhali, etc. More than all, the entire burden of his opposition to the creation of Pakistan was that it would be against the interests of Muslims! In fact, Azad says, the Muslims were fools in following Jinnah, as thereby they got only a fraction of the land whereas if they had followed his advice they would have had a decisive voice in the affairs of the entire country, in addition to all the benefits of Pakistan! Sri Mehrchand Mahajan, ex-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, had come out with the same comments about the book. For instance, he says, "The Maulana was more shrewed than Mr. Jinnah. Left to him, India would have become virtually a Muslim-dominated country."
    • M.S. Golwalkar, Bunch of thoughts
  • Understandably but unjustifiably, Azad has often been described as as moderate and nationalist Muslim: he rejected the Partition of India and the foundation of Pakistan, not because he rejected the idea of a Muslim state, but because he wanted all of India to become a Muslim state in time. When in the forties the Partition seemed unavoidable, Azad patronized proposals to preserve India's unity, stipulating that half of all members of parliament and of the government had to be Muslims (then 24% of the population), with the other half to be divided between Hindus, Ambedkarites, Christians, and the rest. Short, a state in which Muslims would rule and non-Muslims would be second-class citizens electorally and politically. The Cabinet Mission Plan, proposed by the British as the ultimate sop for the Muslim League, equally promised an effective parity between Muslims and non-Muslims at the Central Government level and a veto right for the Muslim minority. Without Gandhiji's and other Congress leaders' knowing, Congress president Azad assured the British negotiators that he would get the plan accepted by the Congress. When he was caught in the act of lying to the Mahatma about the plan and his assurance, he lost some credit even among the naive Hindus who considered him a moderate. But he retained his position of trust in Nehru's cabinet, and continued his work for the ultimate transformation of India into a Muslim State.
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1992). Negationism in India: Concealing the record of Islam.
  • There are other aspects to the Afghan connection of the Khilafatist fever which deserve consideration. Thus, a demythologizing light is thrown upon the motives of the ‘nationalist Muslim’ leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad by the conclusion he drew from the doctrine that the British, in destroying the Caliphate, had become the enemies of Islam. To Azad, like to many Ulema, this meant that British India was a Dar-al-Harb, ‘land of strife’, i.e., a land controlled by infidel enemies of Islam, where Muslims had the duty either to wage jihad and overthrow the infidel regime or to emigrate to an Islamic state. Since British power was still too strong, Muslims had to emulate the decision of the Prophet to flee Pagan Mecca to Muslim-dominated Medina in AD 622, and therefore, the influential Maulana called on the Indian Muslims to migrate to Afghanistan. Thousands heeded his call, sold everything or simply left it behind, but found Afghan society to be inhospitable, incomprehending and hostile. Stricken by poverty, famine and religious anguish, they had to return to India in desperation. Some of them died on the way to and from Afghanistan. The man who had brought this misfortune on them with his obscurantist scheme was to become the leading Congress Muslim, Education Minister in Nehru’s Cabinet and one of the most powerful men in India after Independence.
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • His plan for united India immediately after independence was a confederation of communities, with the Muslim community owing allegiance to a religious head, the Amir-i-Hind, himself a vassal of the Caliph in all matters covered by Islamic law. In Peter Hardy's explanation: "Jurisprudential apartheid was to be the rock against which the power of majorities would break."
    • P. Hardy, Partners in Freedom, p 34-5, as quoted in Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". p 737, also quoted in Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: Profile of a Nationalist by Mahavir Singh.
  • Azad put forward or patronized proposals to preserve India's unity by reassuring the Muslim League with the provision that half of all members of parliament and of the government had to be Muslims (then 24% of the population), with the other half to be divided between Hindus, Ambedkarites, Christians, and the rest. This would have amounted to a state under Muslim hegemony.
    • Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". p 738
  • In 1920–2 Abdul Kalam Azad and the Jamiyat were advocating the mental partition of India.
    • Peter Hardy quoted in The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience,translator=Cynthia Schoch ,Oxford University Press 2015

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