Voice of Knowledge and Secularism: Celebrating Maulana Azad’s 132nd Birth AnniversaryShaikhindi
‘Learn to create your own surroundings, your own world’, said Maulana Azad in his last sermons from the pulpit of the historic Jama Masjid asking the Muslims of Shahjahanabad convincing them to stay back in their Delhi and their India, during the disastrous partition period and to define their future in the future of democratic India. He was completely unapologetic and utterly explicit in calling out the blunder of the Muslim League and the mistakes of Indian Muslims in falling for the divisive and communal politics of the League leading up to Partition. Challenging the emerging fissures in identity frenzy Indian politics, he was a voice of concern, zeal and confidence.
Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad Or Maulana Azad is arguably the most prescient of political leaders of the Indian National Movement, born on 11th of November 1888 in Mecca of the Ottoman Empire. Maulana Azad was educated in Urdu, Farsi, Turkish and Arabic from a very young age and even took up courses as diverse as Philosophy, Geometry and History. He completed his Islamic Theology teachings and was initially influenced by the idea of pan-Islamism. His fight against the British occupation intensified with the banning of his weekly ‘Al-Hilal’ in 1916 and the subsequent government order to deport him in Bihar till 1920 and restrict his travel. With ‘Maulana’ in his name and his background in Islamic theology, and donning a Sherwani he might have been easily the perfect poster boy for the Muslim League and its communal politics. Instead, he chose to adopt the secular politics of the Indian National Congress resonating with his commitments, after he met Gandhi in 1920 he became involved in the Khilafat movement and took the reins of its leadership.
As the youngest congress leader at the age of 35, he became an anchor along with Gandhi to hold on to the secular principles of Congress India and ascertained the need for communal harmony and secularism in the Idea of India. His unfinished translation of Qur’an also sided with the religiosity and the composite ethos of India. Presiding over congress in 1923, he once said “If an angel descends from heaven and offers me Swaraj in 24 hours on condition that I give up Hindu-Muslim Unity, I will refuse. Swaraj we will get sooner or later; its delay will be a loss for India, but the loss of Hindu-Muslim unity will be a loss for humankind”. Maulana Azad’s political, intellectual and social career has colours of all shades in it.
Decorated with man feats, he was Independent India’s first education minister from 1952 until his death in 1958. It was one of the most important portfolios for a young nation, the present reputation of the institution which he pioneered is the testimony of his zeal, strength and perseverance. His early interest in education naturally made him involved in the creation of Jamia Millia Islamia, he was among the founding members of the institution, and he was instrumental in shifting the campus to its present location in Okhla, Delhi. Responsible for the establishment of IITs and UGC he also presided over the establishment of Sahitya Academy and various other institutions of cultural and educational importance His emphasis on modern education and a future-oriented pedagogy has been the driving force and the philosophy of the Indian education system and which needs to be reoriented and emphasised upon. On this National Education Day, an outlook towards holistic pursuance in education and a strong resolution to abide by the secular and progressive ideas of Maulana Azad- the priest, the leader and the teacher, among others of the tall order of leaders of the Indian national movement would be the best way in keeping up with his ideas and an honourable tribute to him.
Image Source: News18