KHILAFAT MOVEMENT – 1920


The Khilafat movement (1919–26) was a pan-Islamic, political protest campaign launched by Muslims in British India to influence the British government.

The Caliphate is an Islamic system of governance in which the state rules under Islamic law.

Ottoman emperor Abdul Hamid II 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.

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.

Turkey was against the Allies in the First World War.

The British Prime Minister Lloyd George has assured the Indian Muslims that Turkey would be treated fairly after the war.

But in October 1918, Turkey was forced to sign the armistice terms, which aimed at dissolving the Turkish Empire.

The Indian Muslims got disillusioned at the treatment meted out to the Khalifa.

In early 1919, a Khilafat Committee was formed under the leadership of the Ali brothers (Shaukat Ali and Muhammad Ali), Maulana Azad, Ajmal Khan and Hasrat Mohani, to force the British Government to change its attitude to Turkey.

Thus, the grounds for a country-wide agitation were prepared.

Muslims demanded from the British—–

that the Khalifa’s control over Muslim sacred places should be retained, and

the Khalifa should be left with sufficient territories after territorial arrangements.

In 1920 an alliance was made between Khilafat leaders and the Indian National Congress.

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 Gandhiji and the Congress ensure Hindu-Muslim unity during the struggle.

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.

Gandhiji, the Ali brothers and others were imprisoned by the British.

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.