Maulana Abul Kalam Azad : [ 1888-1958]
A TRIBUTE TO MAULANA AZAD ON HIS
48th DEATH ANNIVERSARY
By: Kaleem Kawaja, Washington DC
Maulana Azad was born in Mecca on 11 Nov 1888 and died in New Delhi on 22 Feb 1958.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad ranks among the top builders of modern India and among the top freedom fighters, who dedicated his entire life to liberate India from the British colonial rule. Much has been written about this prince among Indians of his century. He was not only enlightened, erudite, wise and humble, he was also a man who often led from the front and set personal examples for others. Much has been written about Azad in the last six decades. Today let us explore how some top Indian leaders viewed him, and what were his own views.
How Others Viewed Azad:
Mahatma Gandhi: "Maulana Azad is the most forceful, truthful, and fearless satyagrahi and fighter against oppression and injustice that I have come across".
Jawaharlal Nehru: "Though I am grateful to all my companions, I would like to mention especially Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, whose erudition has delighted me incredibly, and has sometimes overwhelmed me. In Azad along with the good qualities of the past, the graciousness, the deep learning and tolerance, there is a strange and unique mixture of the urges of today and the modern outlook".
"Maulana Azad was a very special representative in a high degree, of the great composite culture which has gradually grown in India. He represented the synthesis of various cultures which had flown in and lost themselves in the ocean of Indian life and humanity, affecting and changing them and being changed themselves by them. In that sense, I can hardly conceive of any other person who can replace him, because the age which produced him is past."
Azad's Own Views:
"I am a Muslim and profoundly conscious of the fact that I have inherited Islam's glorious tradition of the last fourteen hundred years. I am not prepared to loose even a small part of that legacy. The history and teachings of Islam, its arts and letters, its culture and civilization are part of my wealth and it is my duty to cherish and guard them. But, with all these feelings, I have another equally deep realization, born out of my life's experience which is strengthened and not hindered by the Islamic spirit. I am equally proud of the fact that I am an Indian, an essential part of the indivisible unity of the Indian nationhood, a vital factor in its total makeup, without which this noble edifice will remain incomplete."
" If the whole world is our country and is to be honored, the dust of India has the first place. If all mankind are our brothers, then the Indians have the first place."
"Not only is our national freedom impossible without Hindu-Muslim unity, we also can not create without it, the primary principles of humanity. If an angel were to tell me: 'Discard Hindu-Muslim unity and within 24 hours I will give freedom to India' I would prefer Hindu-Muslim unity. For the delay in the attainment of freedom will be a loss to India alone, but if the Hindu-Muslim unity disappears, that will be a loss to the whole humanity."
"It was India's historic destiny that many human races, cultures, and religions should flow to her, and that many a caravan should find rest here... One of the last of these caravans was that of the followers of Islam. This came here and settled for good. In India everything bears the stamp of the joint endeavors of the Hindus and Muslims. Our languages were different, but we grew to use a common language. Our manners and customs were dissimilar, but they produced a new synthesis. No fantasy or artificial scheming to separate and divide us can break this unity."
[photo: The portrait of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, painted by K.K. Hebbar, was unveiled by the then President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on 16 December 1959. The portrait was donated by the Azad Portrait Committee of Members of Parliament. ]