Gandhiji referred to Maulana Azad as “Emperor of Learning”. Maulana Azad strongly emphasized on the importance of education, at all the times. He considered education to be the fundamental pillar in nation-building. On 16th January, 1948, at a meeting, Azad said “We must not for a moment forget, it is a birthright of every individual to receive at least the basic education without which he cannot fully discharge his duties as a citizen.” Under British India, only provinces were authorized to enact legislation for Education. Maulana Azad was firmly against this view and argued that as education was a matter of utmost significance, it cannot be left to State government and Central government should be given the authority in order to ensure a uniform national standard of education across the country. Ultimately, Education was listed in the 7th schedule of the Constitution, in which the central and the state government can enact legislation. He also established ‘The Board for Adult Education’ in order to promote education among the uneducated adults. He believed that education was the right of all the citizens and advocated that all the children up to 14 years of age must be provided with free and compulsory primary education. In, October 1920, Maulana Azad was elected as a member of foundation committee to establish Jamia Millia Islamia at Aligarh (U.P) and in 1934, he assisted in shifting the campus of the University from Aligarh to New Delhi. He laid down the foundation of higher education in India. He played a pivotal role in the establishment of several renowned educational institutes viz. first-ever, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in 1951, University Grant Commission (UGC) in 1953, The Central Institute of education, Delhi (Now, Department of Education of Delhi University). He also emphasized on the development of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Faculty of Technology of Delhi University. In January 1947, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad joined the Interim Government when Mr. Asaf Ali was appointed as India's Ambassador in Washington. In 1952, he was given additional charge of the portfolio of Natural Resources and Scientific Research. He started the Indian Council for Cultural Relation: an organization to establish and strengthen cultural contacts between India and other countries of the East. In 1992, he was posthumously honoured with India’s highest Civilian award “BHARAT RATNA” owing to his key role in promoting primary and secondary education, scientific education and establishment of IIT’s, IIM’s and UGC. His immense contribution in the field of education in India is recognised by celebrating his birthday as National Education Day across India.
Maulana Azad emerged as one of the most prominent national leaders in Indian freedom movements against British rule. He protested against anti-semitism of the British Government. Also, he was strongly against the communal politics and was a strong believer in the co-existence of all religious communities. He worked with revolutionary leaders Sri Aurobindo and Shyam Sundar Chakravarthy and established many secret revolutionary centers all over North India and Bombay. In 1912, Maulana Azad started a weekly journal named “Al-Hilal” to promote revolutionary views amongst Muslims, to encourage the Indian muslims to join freedom movements. The journal achieved a high circulation of 26,000 copies and it instilled a sense of Hindu-Muslim unity among the society. Al-Hilal openly criticised British policies. The British government banned the journal in 1914, owing Al- Hilal as a propagator of secessionist views and spreading extremist views. This didn’t stop Maulana Azad and he came up with another weekly publication Al-Balagh with the same mission, but, in 1919, the British Government banned it too. During this time he supported Khilafat movement. In 1920, he joined the National Congress and played a pivotal role in Non Co-operation movement and in 1923, he was nominated as the President of the special session of the Congress in Delhi. Maulana Azad also participated in Gandhiji’s Salt Satyagraha. Maulana Azad was selected as President of Congress in Ramgarh session in 1923. In his presidential speech, he emphasized on maintaining communal harmony and ignoring the idea of religious separatism. He wanted a unified nation and opposed the two-nation theory and partition.