One of the early ancestors of Maulana Azad, Sheikh Jamaluddin, a profound scholar and a Muslim divine of great repute, having to his credit a number of books which are held in high esteem to this day and among which is the celebrated commentary on the most trustworthy text of hadith (Islamic Traditions), and recognised as an authority by which most Muslim divines swear, revolted against the innovation of Akbar’s Din-i-Ilahi, thus incurring the displeasure of the Great Emperor. He was patronised by Akbar’s foster-brother, Mirza Aziz Kokaltash, but anticipating trouble in future, he left for Mecca. This first known ancestor of the Maulana left the proud legacy of Satyagraha for him.
Later on, in the times of Jehangir, another ancestor of the Maulana, Sheikh Muhammad refused to do Kornish (obeisance) to the Emperor as, in his view, it did not behove the learned to lay prostrate before wealth. He refused to bend his knees to Baal and was sentenced to be imprisoned in the fort of Gwalior for four years.
It also remained a kind of family tradition not to accept any office or position of power; but Shaikh Sirajuddin , a great grandfather of the Maulana, accepted the position of a Chief Judge and broke the tradition.
The Maulana’s father, Maulana Muhammad Khairuddin was a learned divine and a sufi. He wrote numerous books both in Arabic and Persian and his life and temperament were coloured by stoic simplicity and contemplation of the Sufis. He lived in Delhi,where he had thousands of disciples and his clientale extended up to Gujarat, Kathiawar and Bombay.
In Mecca, he married the daughter of a very famous divine, Shaikh Wetri. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was born on 11 November 1888, and inherited from both of his parents the grand legacy of learning.