Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was born on November 11, 1888 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. A leading figure in India's struggle for freedom, apart from being a noted writer, poet and journalist, he adopted the pen name Azad (Free). In his childhood, he had a traditional Islamic education, alongwith training in subjects like mathematics, philosophy, world history and science by tutors at his home. Through his own efforts, he learnt English, alongwith Western philosophy, history and contemporary politics. He visited countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. He opposed the partition of Bengal in 1905. He established an Urdu weekly newspaper in 1912 named Al-Hilal. It was consequently banned in 1914, following which he started a new journal, the Al-Balagh.
He published many works criticizing the British rule and advocating self-rule for India. It was as a leader of the Khilafat movement that he became close to Mahatma Gandhi. He became the youngest President of the Indian National Congress in 1923.He always supported the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity and opposed the demand for a separate Muslim state of Pakistan. After India's independence, he served as the first Minister for Education.
He served in the Constituent Assembly formed to draft India's constitution and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1952 and in 1957. In 1956, he served as president of the UNESCO General Conference in Delhi. His exhaustive book on India's freedom struggle titled India Wins Freedom was published in 1957. This great leader passed away on February 22, 1958