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Khilafat Movement

The Khilafat movement (1919–26) 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.[1]

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.[2]


  • History 1
    • Partitioning 1.1
  • Khilafat in South Asia 2
  • Khilafat Movement and Nehru report 3
  • Collapse 4
  • Legacy 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8
  • Further reading 9


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.


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.

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.[3] To its founders and followers, the Khilafat was not a religious movement but rather a show of solidarity with their fellow Muslims in Turkey.[4]

Mohammad Ali and his brother

  • Minault, Gail (1982). The Khilafat Movement: Religious Symbolism and Political Mobilization in India. Columbia University Press. 
  • Qureshi, M. Naeem (1999). Pan-Islam in British Indian politics: a study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918-1924. BRILL. 
  • Gandhi, Khilafat & The National Movement by N.S. Rajan, Publisher :Sahitya Sindhu Prakashan

Further reading

  • Khilafat Movement
  • Khilafat Movement in Banglapedia

External links

  1. ^ Sankar Ghose (1991). Mahatma Gandhi. Allied Publishers. pp. 124–26. 
  2. ^ Gail Minault, The Khilafat Movement: Religious Symbolism and Political Mobilization in India (1982).
  3. ^ However, at the same time, note must also be made that in the North Punjab and part of the NWFP, a huge number of Muslims did actively volunteer to serve in the British Indian Army in World War I
  4. ^ A. C. Niemeijer (1972). The Khilafat movement in India, 1919-1924. Nijhoff. p. 84. 
  5. ^ Gail Minault, The Khilafat movement p 92
  6. ^ Gail Minault, The Khilafat movement p 69
  7. ^ Nehru Memorial Museum and Library New Delhi
  8. ^ Gail Minault, The Khilafat movement p 184
  9. ^ Gail Minault, The Khilafat movement p 205
  10. ^ Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.106
  11. ^ Gail Minault, The Khilafat movement pp 208-12


See also

The Khilafat struggle evokes controversy and strong opinions. By critics, it is regarded as a political agitation based on a pan-Islamic, fundamentalist platform and being largely indifferent to the cause of Indian independence. Critics of the Khilafat see its alliance with the Congress as a marriage of convenience. 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. Jats were the only group who were with the Ali brothers the whole time. Main tribes of Jats included Metlas and Aujla.[11]


The Khilafat leadership fragmented on different political lines. 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. There was, however, a Caliphate Conference in Jerusalem in 1931 following Turkey's abolition of the Khilafat, to determine what should be done about the caliphate.[10] People from villages such as Aujla Khurd were the main contributors to the cause.

The final blow 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.[9]

In wake of these disturbances, the Ali brothers began distancing themselves from Gandhi and the Congress. The Ali brothers criticised Gandhi's extreme commitment to non-violence and severed their ties with them after he suspended all non-cooperation movement after the killing of 23 policemen at Chauri Chaura in 1922. 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. 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.[8] Another reason was that members of the movement were concerned with the fate of khalifa than were the western powers and the people of Turkey


Khilafat Committee rejected Nehru Report.

Maulana Md. Ali Jauhar was at that time in jail,so the central Khilafat Committee was represented by Maulana Shaukat Ali, Begum Mohammad Ali and following other thirty members from Central Khilafat Committee :-1.Maulana Md Ifran, Bombay 2.Maulana Mohiuddin Ajmery,Bombay 3. Yasin Noori,Bar-at-Law,Ahmadabad 4.S.K.Nabibullah,Advocate,Bombay 5.Moulvi Gulsher Khan Akola(Berar) 6. Maulana Md. Ibrahim,Muzaffarpur(Bihar) 7. Moulvi Manzoor Ali Taib,Simla 8.Haji Musa Khan, Aligarh 9.Maulana Azad Subhani, Gorakhpur 10.Maulana Md. Jafri, Editor 'Millat'Delhi 11.Syed Lal Badshah,Peshawar 12. Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi 13.Syed Rauf Pasham,Madras 14.Hafiz Mohd. Usman, Aligarh 15. Sheikh Abdul Majid,Karanchi 16.Doctor Maghfoor Ahmad Ajazi,Muzaffarpur (Bihar) 17.Seth Hashim Abdur Rahman,Calcutta 18. khawja Ghyasuddin,Calcutta 19.Sheikh Ilahi Bakhsh,Sitamarhi(Bihar) 20.Maulana Abdul Mohasin Md. Sajjad,Phulwarisharif,Patna(Bihar) 21.Sardar SulaimanQasim Mitha,Malabar Hill,Bombay 22.Haji Ali Md. Jalaluddin,Bombay 23.Maulana Abdul Rauf,Bombay 24.Moulvi Fateh Md.,Editor 'Insaf',Bombay 25.Md. Jan,Bombay 26.Seth Ahmad Bhamriwala,Bombay 27. Khan Bahadur Abdul Ahad Khan,Bombay 28 Moulvi Himaytullah,Bombay 29.Md. Bakhsh Jamadar, Bombay 30. Zahid ali, Bombay.[7]

Central Khilafat Committee participated in All parties Conference,which formed a committee under the presidency of Moti Lal Nehru to draft a constitution, which came to be known as"Nehru Report"[1928].

Khilafat Movement and Nehru report

However, the Congress-Khilafat alliance began withering soon. The Khilafat campaign had been opposed by other political parties such as the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha.

The non-cooperation campaign was at first successful. Massive protests, strikes and acts of civil disobedience spread across India. Hindus and Muslims collectively offered resistance, which was largely peaceful. Gandhi, the Ali brothers and others were imprisoned by the British. Under the flag of Tehrik-e-Khilafat, a Punjab Khilafat deputation comprising Moulana Manzoor Ahmed and Moulana Lutfullah Khan Dankauri R.A. took a leading role throughout India, with a particular concentration in the Punjab (Sirsa, Lahore, Hariyana etc.).

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.[6]


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