Maulana Azad, a close associate and friend of Mahatma Gandhi and India’s first education minister, had conceived of and set up three academies for art, performing arts and literature, before he passed away in 1958. Maulana Azad, was buried in the historic setting in Delhi between Shah Jahan’s Jama Masjid and the Red Fort. After a successful completion of the memorial to Gandhi in Barrackpore Gandhi Ghat, Barrackepore, architect Habib Rahman was appointed for the task of building a memorial for Maulana Azad.
In keeping with the requirements set down by the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, the design was not to conflict with the neighbouring historic monuments and represent the "humble personality" of Maulana Azad.
Finished in 1959–1960, the tomb’s design was a modern thin-shelled concrete cross-vault structure derived from the arch of the mosque, set in a charbagh, a quadrilateral garden layout of Persian origin favored by the Mughals (based on the four gardens of Paradise mentioned in the Qur'an). It was designed to fit harmoniously within the great Mughal city structures from the seventeenth century. Nehru also loved this memorial. Set in a 67m x 67m enclosed garden, the memorial structure consists of a delicate white chhatri (canopy) over the grave. The chhatri is a cross-vault, 7.5 cm thick, supported on four slender L-shaped columns. The concrete is a mix of white cement and crushed marble, slighly polished by hand, its profile derived from the pointed Islamic arches of the Jama Masjid.