United India: Remembering the Legacy of Maulana Azad.
Kochi : India has forgotten the story, the voice and the legacy of Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, fondly known as Maulana Azad; independent India’s first ever Education Minister. To commemorate the contributions of scholar who remains one of the leading nationalists of all time, his birthday (November 11) is celebrated as “ National Education Day”.
Maulana Azad rose to prominence through his work as a journalist, mainly focusing on the works critical of the British Raj, and adopting causes of Indian Nationalism. He is considered one of the greatest Urdu writers of the 20th century, and has many published works including India Wins Freedom, a book on the partition of India in the words of Azad himself.
A firm believer and ardent supporter of modernity and rational thinking, back in the 1930s, Maulana Azad was a man of contemporary ideas who wanted people to be enlightened and liberated by their ideologies. A man of cosmic vision and character, Azad’s impact on education was prodigious. He also gave special importance on the education of women. In 1949, in the Central Assembly, Azad stressed on the importance of studies in modern sciences and knowledge, and also highlighted that, “no program of national education can be appropriate if it does not give full consideration to the education and advancement of one-half of the society, that is Women.”
Maulana Azad was one of the youngest ever leaders of the Indian National Congress, and during his leadership of the Khalifat Movement in 1920, became a close colleague of Mahatma Gandhi. Their ideologies and teachings were similar, and both leaders worked together, alongside Jawaharlal Nehru, and Sardar Patel to persuade the British to end their rule over India.
Being remembered as the driving force behind India’s education sector, Azad’s political notions which emphasized on Hindu-Muslim unity cannot be forgotten. Azad was committed to building bridges and creating an understanding between the two religions in the country. He emphasized on relinquishing Swaraj (independence) rather than giving up Hindu-Muslim unity. During the Indian National Congress Special Session in Delhi in the year 1923, he addressed the gathering citing that,“ Delay in the attainment of Swaraj will be a loss for India, but if our unity is lost, it will be a loss for the entire mankind.”
Maulana Azad was an Islamic theologian who respected and loved his religion, and constantly stood for justice, non-violence, and equality. He fought narrow-mindedness and bigotry, appreciated the essence and aura of other religions, stayed a true Indian patriot who aimed and worked for Equality, Feminism, Secularism, and Peace. Although, Azad was a Nationalist who went against the tyranny of the British, he did also acknowledge their contributions to the education, society, and culture of a growing nation.
A man full of grace and aesthetic appeal like Maulana Azad should never be forgotten.
A time where India is on the brink of segregation between religions, political ideals, and anti-nationalism, one should remember Azad his political ideologies and credentials, and walk his path for a better India, for a better future.
Article by Zainab Adam