Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1888 - 1958) was a prominent Muslim freedom fighter of India. Born in Mecca, he was brought up and educated in Calcutta, in the traditional Muslim manner. Realizing the importance of English as an international language, he taught himself to read, write and speak the language. He adopted the pen name ĎAzadí to signify his freedom from traditional Muslim ways.
Azad was introduced to the freedom struggle by the revolutionary Shri Shyam Sunder Chakravarthy. Even though he was opposed by most revolutionaries who were anti-Muslims, Azad tried to convince his colleagues that indifference and hostility towards the Muslims would only make the freedom struggle more difficult.
Azad began the publication of a journal called Al Hilal (The Crescent) in June 1912 to absorb more Muslims into the revolutionary line. The Al Hilal reached a circulation of 26,000 in two years. The British government used the Press Act and then the Defense of India Regulations Act in 1916 to shut the journal down.
Azad supported Mahatma Gandhi's non-cooperation movement and joined the Indian National Congress in January 1920. He was against the partition of India and suggested a confederation of autonomous provinces with their own constitutions but with a common defense and economy. Maulana Azad served as the Minister of Education in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's ministry from 1947 to 1958.