The Khilafat Movement(1919-1924) was a major pan-Islamic movement started to save the Ottoman Empire and extended to India against the British power. Proponents of the Khilafat see it as the spark that led to the non-cooperation movement in India and a major milestone in improving Hindu-Muslim relations, while advocates of Pakistan and Muslim separatism see it as a major step towards establishing the separate Muslim state. It also gave rise to communal violences and played big role in the formation of RSS.
Signup to stay updated.
The Khilafat Movement(1919-1924) was a major pan-Islamic movement started to save the Ottoman Empire and extended to India against the British power.
Before knowing the khilafat, let's know the khalifa first. In Islamic traditions, a Khalifah or Caliph is the religious successor of prophet Muhammed . It is both a theological and a political title. It is the supreme religious and political leader of all muslims across the world. According to the Islamic traditions - only a Caliph can give the order of an Armed Struggle or Jihad.
During the World War-I, Turkey sided with Germany in war against British and their allies. On 30 October 1918, the Ottoman Empire signs the Armistice of Mudros treaty on a British naval ship, HMS Agamemnon. Parts of the former Ottoman Empire are occupied and partitioned. The British and French army occupied Istanbul and theTurkish Empire (i.e. Ottoman Empire) collapsed.
On 28 June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles is signed between the victors and the losers of World War I. The political powers of the Caliph is curtailed, but the Allied Powers - the victors, promise to respect the status of the Ottoman Emperor as the Caliph.
Earlier Ottoman emperor Abdul Hamid II (1876–1909) had launched his Pan-Islamic program to protect the Ottoman Empire from Western attack and dismemberment. He sent an emissary, Jamaluddin Afghani, to India in the late 19th century. The cause of the Ottoman monarch had already evoked religious passion and sympathy amongst Indian Muslims towards Caliphate.
After the fall of Ottoman empire, Muslim leaders in India started the Khilafat movement to protest the allied act and to save the Ottoman. On 23 November 1919, the All India Khilafat Conference is organised in Delhi by the famous Ali Brothers Maulana Shaukat Ali and Mohammed Ali Johar. they released the Khilafat Manifesto which included calls for the retention of the administration of Arabia and a few other territories under the Ottoman Caliph and called Indian Muslims to unite and hold the British accountable for this purpose.
A new Turk government under the leadership of pro-reform Mustafa Kamal is formed on 23 April 1920. Around the same time, the Khilafat Movement in India gets into a joint venture with the Indian National Congress and Non-Cooperation movement of India was started by Mahatama Gandhi. They promised to work and fight together for the causes of Khilafat and Swaraj. It was the first Pan India struggle against the British where both Hindus and the Muslims participate together.
On 10th August 1920 the Treaty of Sevres is signed, under which territories such as Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt were severed from the Ottoman empire.
The support of the Khilafatists helped Gandhi and the Congress ensure Hindu-Muslim unity during the struggle. Khilafat leaders such as Dr. Ansari, Maulana Azad and Hakim Ajmal Khan also grew personally close to Gandhi. These leaders founded the Jamia Millia Islamia in 1920 to promote independent education and social rejuvenation for Muslims.
The non cooperation was to continue till the wrongs of Punjab ( Jallianwala Bagh) and Khilafat were removed. In July 1921 , Ali brothers gave a call to Muslims to resign from the army.
Mahatma Gandhi and the Ali Brothers were touring the nation - seeking support for the Khilafat Movement. They visited Calicut, and established the Khilafat Committee in Malabar.
In August 1921, the Moplahs of Malabar - primarily muslims - participating in the Khilafat movement agitations against the British, decided that it is good time to settle old scores with the Jenmis (Namboodiris) and Kannikarans (Nairs) of the area as well. They went on a rampage, thousands were brutally killed, women were raped abused and many were forced to apostatize their religion.
A few leaders of the Khilafat Movement around the country pass resolutions congratulating the Moplahs of Kerala and Mahatma Gandhi didn't release a categorical condemnation.
On 5 February 1922, when a large group of protesters, participating in the Non-cooperation movement in Chauri Chaura(Gorakhpur), clashed with police, who opened fire. In retaliation the demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police station, killing all of its occupants. The incident led to the deaths of three civilians and 22 or 23 policemen. Mahatma Gandhi, who was strictly against violence, halted the Non-cooperation Movement on the national level on 12 February 1922, as a direct result of this incident. As a result the Ali brothers criticised Gandhi's extreme commitment to non-violence and severed their ties with them. However, it is also true that the immediate reason for the disposal of the committee was the much criticised embezzlement of 1.6 million rupees (Source : wikipedia). The Ali brothers were severely criticised by Muslim politicians and the public. Although holding talks with the British and continuing their activities, the Khilafat struggle weakened as Muslims were divided between working for the Congress, the Khilafat cause and the Muslim League.
The final blow to Khilafat movement came with the victory of Mustafa Kemal's forces, who overthrew the Ottoman rule to establish a pro-Western, secular republic in independent Turkey. He abolished the role of Caliph and sought no help from Indians.
As a result of the fall of Khilafat movement Muslim leaders got divided. Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari created Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam with the support of Chaudhry Afzal Haq. Leaders such as Dr. Ansari, Maulana Azad and Hakim Ajmal Khan remained strong supporters of Gandhi and the Congress. The Ali brothers joined Muslim League. They would play a major role in the growth of the League's popular appeal and the subsequent Pakistan movement.
Proponents of the Khilafat see it as the spark that led to the non-cooperation movement in India and a major milestone in improving Hindu-Muslim relations, while advocates of Pakistan and Muslim separatism see it as a major step towards establishing the separate Muslim state. The Ali brothers are regarded as founding-fathers of Pakistan, while Azad, Dr. Ansari and Hakim Ajmal Khan are widely celebrated as national heroes in India.
The Khilafat movement brought Hindus and Muslims together in India's freedom struggle but it also gave rise to communal violences. The mutual trust between Hindu and Muslim communities had reached a low in the 1920s, and riots were seen frequently across many cities of India. In 1923, India witnessed eleven riots, in 1924 there were eighteen riots, in 1925 there were sixteen riots, and in 1926 there were thirty five riots (source : Gandhi: In His Time and Ours By David Hardiman).
K. B. Hedgewar who was an active member of Indian National Congress didn't like Gandhi's attitude towards Hindus during these riots. These outbreak of the Hindu-Muslim riot in 1923 made him ponder over an alternate model of nation-building in India. He was deeply influenced by the writings of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. He considered that the cultural and religious heritage of Hindus should be the basis of Indian nationhood. Hedgewar founded RSS in 1925 on the day of Vijayadashami with an aim to organise Hindu community for its cultural and spiritual regeneration and make it a tool in getting the country free from foreign domination.
After series of riots and formation of RSS, Gandhi said
"My own experience confirms that Muslims as a rule is bully and Hindus as a rule is a coward. I have noticed this in railway trains, public roads and quarrels which I had the priviledge of solving. The answer to this was not gymnastic training and physical exercises which has an aggresive intent. Muslims would play the same game and violence would merely escalate. What was needed in training in non-violent resistence which require far more courage."
Obviously Gandhi's statement didn't go down well with other Hindu leaders and it further fueled the Hindu nationalism movement and sowed the seeds of hatred towards Mahatma Gandhi.
Source : The Khilafat movement in India
Login or Signup to share your views on this post.