Timeline History

Khilafat Movement

The Khilafat Movement (1919-1924) was a movement amongst the Muslims of British India (the largest single Muslim community in one geo-political entity at the time) to ensure that the British, victors of World War I, kept a promise made at the Versailles. The promise was that the Caliphate, then claimed by the Ottoman emperor, would not be abolished.
Ottoman emperor Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909) had launched his Pan-Islamic program in a bid to protect the Ottoman empire from Western attack and dismemberment, and to crush the Westernizing democratic opposition in Turkey. He sent an emissary, Jamaluddin Afghani, to India in the late nineteenth century. Some Indian Muslim leaders endorsed his efforts. One Muslim journalist, Maulana Mohammad Ali, spent four years in prison (1911-1915) for preaching resistance to the British and support for the Ottoman caliph.
In September 1919, Maulana Muhammad Ali and his brother Shaukat Ali, together with Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, and Hasrat Mohani, started a new organization, the Khilafat Movement. Their avowed aim was to use whatever leverage they had with the British, as residents of a British colony, to protect the Caliphate. They organized Khilafat Conferences in several northern Indian cities. In 1920 they published the Khilafat Manifesto.
The Ali brothers then made a strategic alliance. They convinced Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to join a Hindu-Muslim alliance for self-rule (Indian Independence, or Swaraj). Gandhi's followers would support the Khilafat Movement if the Muslims would support Gandhi's efforts for swaraj. Gandhi became a member of the Central Khilafat Committee and at the Nagpur session (1920) of the Indian National Congress Gandhi proposed a non-cooperation campaign, of non-violent satyagraha, in support of swaraj and khilafat.
The non-cooperation campaign was at first successful. However, the Hindu-Muslim alliance soon dissolved in communal violence.
In 1920, some 18,000 Muslim peasants, mostly from Sind and the North Western Provinces, voluntarily emigrated to Afghanistan. They believed that India was Dar al-Harb, a non-Islamic land, and wished to live in Dar al-Islam, an Islamic polity. Afghanistan could not support this vast influx of poor refugees and there was great suffering.
In August 1921, the poor Muslim peasants of Malabar (now part of Kerala state) erupted in the Moplah rebellion. After a pitched battle with British troops -- which the rebels lost with thousands killed and wounded -- the peasants attacked their predominantly Hindu, upper-caste landlords.
The Moplah rebellion is still a subject of historical dispute. Hindutva writers stress the religious aims of the rebels, and see the bloody rebellion as proof that Muslims are a threat to Hindus. Marxist writers view the rebellion as class-based: peasants rose against their oppressive landlords. While deploring the excesses of the rebels, the Marxists see the rebellion as justified.
Gandhi's attempt at mass non-violence had ended in massacre. Soon after the Chauri-Chaura incident, Gandhi called off the Non-Cooperation Movement.
The Ali brothers had been arrested; Gandhi had withdrawn from the movement. The final blow to the movement was Kemal Atatόrk's overthrow of the Ottoman Sultan. In 1924, the new, secular, Turkish state relinquished any claims to a universal caliphate. There was now no caliph to support. The Khilafat movement died.

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