The Last Word

Abul-Kalam Azad

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 The Last Word

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Abul-Kalam Azad (Bengal-India, 18881958) was the chief theoretician of the Khilafat movement for Islamic solidarity and a supporter of Indian independence. He was also an exegete of the Qur'an and a prominent literary figurehence his sobriquet, master of eloquence. Azad came from a scholarly family of Afghan descent that had migrated to Mecca, where Azad was born. When he was two, his family returned to India and settled in Calcutta, where he was educated at home following the traditional curriculum. In his late teens, Azad taught himself English and read the Bible and various books and newspapers, leading to a period of doubt and experimentation. He was dismayed by the disagreements among Muslims, and in the spirit of rejecting orthodoxy he adopted the pen name Azad (free). Later he returned to faith, but in the modernist spirit, influenced by the writings of Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (chapter 11) and Egyptian reformers. Between 1912 and 1930, Azad edited the journals al-Hilal (The Crescent) and al-Balagh (The Message), the most important Muslim periodicals of the region. He joined the Indian independence movement, served as president of the All-India National Congress in 1940 1947, and remained an advocate for Hindu-Muslim amity for the rest of his life. When Pakistan was created, Azad remained in India, was appointed minister of education, and served as deputy leader of Congress. The present selection, a speech delivered on the occasion of one of Azad's many imprisonments by British colonial authorities, argues that Muslims must struggle for democratic self-rule.1

Chapter.  7260 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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