The Khilafat movement (1919–22) was a pan-Islamic, political protest campaign launched by Muslims in British India to influence the British government. The movement became the reason for separation from mainland India of an Islamic Pakistan, in the process unleashing tremendous separation-trauma, mainly upon ethnic Punjabis. The subsequent murder of Gandhi in India was also the indirect fallout of the Khilafat Movement. The movement was a topic in Conference of London (February 1920); however, Arabs saw it as threat of continuation of Turkish dominance of Arab lands.
The position of Caliph after the Armistice of Mudros of October 1918 with the military occupation of Istanbul and Treaty of Versailles (1919) fell into a disambiguation along with the Ottoman Empire’s existence. The movement gained force after the Treaty of Sèvres (August 1920) which imposed the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire and gave Greece a powerful position in Anatolia, to the distress of the Turks.
The movement collapsed by late 1922 when Turkey gained a more favourable diplomatic position and moved toward secularism. By 1924 Turkey simply abolished the roles of Sultan and Caliph.
Main article: Ottoman Caliphate
The Caliphate is an Islamic system of governance in which the state rules under Islamic law.
Ottoman emperor Abdul Hamid II (1876–1909) 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 at home. He sent an emissary, Jamaluddin Afghani, to India in the late 19th century. The cause of the Ottoman monarch evoked religious passion and sympathy amongst Indian Muslims. Being a Caliph, the Ottoman emperor was nominally the supreme religious and political leader of all Muslims across the world. However, this authority was never actually used.
A large number of Muslim religious leaders began working to spread awareness and develop Muslim participation on behalf of the Caliphate. Muslim religious leader Maulana Mehmud Hasan attempted to organise a national war of independence against the British with support from the Ottoman Empire.
Abdul Hamid II was forced to restore the constitutional monarchy marking the start of the Second Constitutional Era by the Young Turk Revolution. He was succeeded by his brother Mehmed VI (1844–1918) but following the revolution, the real power in the Ottoman Empire lay with the nationalists.
Further information: Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire
See also: Occupation of Istanbul and Turkish War of Independence
The Ottoman empire, having sided with the Central Powers during World War I, suffered a major military defeat. The Treaty of Versailles (1919) reduced its territorial extent and diminished its political influence but the victorious European powers promised to protect the Ottoman emperor’s status as the Caliph. However, under the Treaty of Sèvres (1920), territories such as Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt were severed from the empire.
Within Turkey, a pro-Western, secular nationalist movement arose, Turkish national movement. During the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1924) led by one of the Turkish revolutionaries, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, abolished the Treaty of Sèvres with the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). Pursuant to Atatürk’s Reforms, the Republic of Turkey abolished the position of Caliphate in 1924 and transferred its powers within Turkey to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. This struggle was joined by many other nationalist for supporting Muslim.
Khilafat in South Asia
Although political activities and popular outcry on behalf of the caliphate emerged across the Muslim world, the most prominent activities took place in India. A prominent Oxford educated Muslim journalist, Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar had spent four years in prison for advocating resistance to the British and support for the caliphate. At the onset of the Turkish war of independence, Muslim religious leaders feared for the caliphate, which the European powers were reluctant to protect. To some of the Muslims of India, the prospect of being conscripted by the British to fight against fellow Muslims in Turkey was anathema. To its founders and followers, the Khilafat was not a religious movement but rather a show of solidarity with their fellow Muslims in Turkey.
Mohammad Ali and his brother Maulana Shaukat Ali joined with other Muslim leaders such as Pir Ghulam Mujaddid Sarhandi (1st) Sheikh Shaukat Ali Siddiqui, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, Raees-Ul-Muhajireen Barrister Jan Muhammad Junejo, Hasrat Mohani, Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Dr. Hakim Ajmal Khan to form the All India Khilafat Committee. The organisation was based in Lucknow, India at Hathe Shaukat Ali, the compound of Landlord Shaukat Ali Siddiqui. They aimed to build political unity amongst Muslims and use their influence to protect the caliphate. In 1920, they published the Khilafat Manifesto, which called upon the British to protect the caliphate and for Indian Muslims to unite and hold the British accountable for this purpose.
In 1920 an alliance was made between Khilafat leaders and the Indian National Congress, the largest political party in India and of the nationalist movement. Congress leader Mohandas Gandhi and the Khilafat leaders promised to work and fight together for the causes of Khilafat and Swaraj. Seeking to increase pressure on the British, the Khilafatists became a major part of the Non-cooperation movement — a nationwide campaign of mass, peaceful civil disobedience. The support of the Khilafatists helped Gandhi and the Congress ensure Hindu-Muslim unity during the struggle. Gandhi described his feelings towards Mohammad Ali as “love at first sight” to underscore his feelings of solidarity. 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.