The Khilafat Movement was a pan-Islamic protest that was launched against the British to protect the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. The movement was led by Shaukat Ali, Maulana Ali Jauhar, Abul Kalam Azad, and Ajmal Ali. The movement aimed to restore the caliph of the Ottoman Empire as he was considered the leader of the Muslims.
In the First World War, the Ottoman Empire (established in Turkey) provided support to Germany. However, Germany and its allies lost the war and it was decided to divide Turkey and put an end to the organization of the caliphate. The position of the caliph became debatable because of the occupation of Istanbul and the Treaty of Versailles. This led to a protest by the Muslims who considered the caliphate a symbol of unity.
The Muslims in the Indo-Pak region stated that their support to the British Government was based on the condition that the holy places in Turkey would be protected and safeguarded and Turkey would not lose any of its territories. However, the British Government could not keep its side of the promise.
Eventually, the Treaty of Sèvres was imposed on Turkey in the year 1920. As a result, Turkey lost its territories like Thrace, Smyrna, and Anatolia. These were further divided among the European countries. This ignited the anger of the Muslim community in the Indo-Pak region and the Indian Muslims rose against the British.
Importance of the Khilafat Movement
The Khilafat Movement was unique in many aspects. The movement was the first major political movement that involved the common man. The movement was supported by not only Muslims but also Hindus. The movement also paved way for the Pakistan Movement and culminated in the inception of Pakistan.
Khilafat Movement in India
The Muslim outcry and protests were rampant across the world, but major activities related to the Khilafat Movement took place in India. The Muslim leaders in India decided to launch a movement to protect the Caliphate. To do so, the All-India Khilafat Committee was formed in Bombay in the year 1919. The first session of the committee was held in Delhi in the year 1919 and it was also attended by the Indian National Congress. In fact, the Khilafat Movement amassed a lot of support from almost every political leader or party in India at that time.
Measures Adopted in the Khilafat Movement
During the Khilafat Movement, the following measures were adopted by the leaders as well the people who supported the movement:
- The leaders as well as the people refrained from attending the victory celebrations of the British who were celebrating in India because of their victory in the World War.
- It was decided to boycott British goods to hamper the British economy.
- Non-cooperation was another strategy that was followed by the supporters of the movement who decided not to cooperate with the British Government.
The demand of the Leaders of the Khilafat Movement
The demands of the Khilafat Movement were:
- It was demanded that the Turkish empire should not be dismembered.
- The institution of the Caliphate was to be retained.
- The leaders demanded that the Holy place in Turkey would remain with the Turkish government.
These demands of the movement to protect the Muslim lands and the Caliphate without any mandate were put forth by Mohammad Ali at a speech delivered in Paris in the year 1920.
The collapse of the Movement
The Khilafat Movement in its initial phases was a highly successful one. However, the movement was not able to last for a long time. The movement was marred because the Muslims were divided between working for the Congress, the Khilafat cause, and the Muslim League. The movement came to an end with the victory of Mustafa Kemal Pasha who overthrew the Ottoman Rule and abolished the role of the caliph. Additionally, the leaders of the Khilafat Movement fragmented on different political lines that ended the movement.
Some of the incidents that fizzled out the Khilafat Movement were:
- The Moplah Revolt: The Moplahs were the descendants of the Arab-Muslims and in August 1921, they revolted against the Hindu landlords. The clash between the Muslims and the Hindus during this revolt and strained the Hindu-Muslim unity that was seen until now in the Khilafat Movement.
- Increase in Violence: The number of violent incidents began to increase manifold during and after the Non-Cooperation Movement. Mahatma Gandhi’s decision to withdraw from the Non-Cooperation Movement also harmed the Khilafat Movement and the distrust between the leaders grew.
- Developments in Turkey: In Turkey, the abolition of the Caliphate and discontinuation of the position of the caliph was a serious blow to the Khilafat Movement. The Muslims although outraged by the same, they also lost the reason that they were fighting for. This gradually ebbed out the movement.
The Khilafat Movement, despite not being successful was important in terms of Muslim political development. The Muslims learned the importance of leadership and an organized political association. The Muslims also got the idea of the desire for a separate homeland and eventually, this led to the creation of the Muslim League and Pakistan.
- The position of the caliph was considered to be important for Muslims across the world.
- The Khilafat Movement was launched to protect the Caliphate by Muslims across the globe.
- The main leaders of the movement were Shaukat Ali, Maulana Ali Jauhar, Abul Kalam Azad, and Ajmal Ali.
- The strategies followed in the movement comprised of non-cooperation and boycott of British goods.
The movement did not last for a very long time because of the different political agendas of the leaders of the movement.