Khilafat Movement (1919-24) was a religious-political campaign launched by the Muslims for having possession of the Ottoman Caliphate or Khilafat-e-Usmania and for not letting the Muslim holy places go under the control of the Non-Muslims. ‘Khalifa’ is an Arabic word derived from the root ‘Khalafa’ which means ‘to follow’ or ‘to come after’.
During the 1st World War Turkey supported Germany as the country was facing massive problems. But Germany started losing its territory and so does Turkey. Turkey had lost most of its territory in 1918 by the end of the 1st World War. During that time the main dilemma was how the allied powers would treat Turkey, the Ottoman Empire or the Khilafat-e-usmania as most of its territory had been occupied in this Movement.
Turkeybeing a Muslim country, the Indian Muslims realized their religious duty to help them. The other reason for supporting them was that the Indian Muslims considered Ottoman Caliphate a symbol of unity of the Muslim world as Ummah.
‘Caliph’ is an Arabic word which means “a successor” or “a representative” which emphasizes religious authority for the head of state. The Islamic system of governance in which the state rules under Islamic law is known as Caliphate.
To protect the Ottoman Empire from the Western countries and to overcome the Western democratic opposition inTurkey, Ottoman emperor Abdul Hamid II had launched a Pan Islamic program. This program expressed religious passion and sympathy amongst Indian Muslims.
Following were the goals of the Movement:
Ottoman Caliphate should be kept secured.
Turkey’s territorial harmony should be preserved.
Not letting the Muslim holy places go under the control of the Non-Muslims.
InIndia, this was the first religious-political Movement which gathered the common man. The Indian Muslims demanded certain safeguards from the British and they started interacting with the other communities and the Congress Party. But during that time from 1906 to 1919 politics was restricted to only educated people and also people who had enough money to spare the money involved in the politics.
However it was due to Khilafat Movement where common man gathered or the ordinary Muslims were involved, people were on streets protesting. This was the 1st Movement inIndia to get common people involved in the politics.
Mobilization capacity of Islam
Khilafat Movement also showed the mobilization capacity of the Islam amongst the Muslims. It also conveyed how Islam and Islamic institutions are precious to the Indian Muslims. Thus it clearly indicated that Islam had had a lot of mobilization capacity and appeal for the common man inIndiaand elsewhere.
Another characteristic of this movement is that it points out the extra-territorial attachment of the Muslims of India based on Islam. The meaning of extra-territorial is that people feel attached to a certain institutions, ideologies, beliefs that may be beyond the territorial boundaries of their own countries. And these extra-territorial attachments have always been very strong in Muslims which are based on Islam.
Concept of Ummah
The concept of Ummah is that Muslims residing in any part of the World belongs to an ideological brotherhood of Islam. It is a community based on the beliefs, teachings and principles of Islam. And therefore the concept of Ummah had a lot of Muslims coming forward during the Khilafat Movement.
The Institution of Khilafat
The Indian Muslims paid much more attention to Khilafat-e-Usmania whose primary seat was inTurkeywhich had continuity from the original institution of Khilafat in Islam. Institution of Khilafat was the second aspect which created extra-territorial sentiments amongst the Muslims.
The Balkan wars
If you go back in the history to 1911-12 you will find the Balkan Wars. This war clearly signifies the strong sentiments of the Indian Muslims for other countries. During that period there was a war between Turkey and Italy and Italy was also attackingLibya.Turkeywas facing massive problems therefore the Indian Muslims sent medical delegation to provide medical assistance to the people affected by war. And now the Indian Muslims in 1919 are showing the same sentiments on the bases of Ummah. Therefore there were a lot of emotions and a lot of support for the possession of Khilafat Movement. These were some of the reasons why Khilafat Movement is so important.
The writers and poets in Indiawere focusing on themes such as the generation and the decline of the Muslims, this all happened during the first three decades of the 20th century. And their writings clearly portray the feelings for the preservation of Khilafat and the possession of the Muslims holy places. The key role was played by the journalism which steer the direction of the struggle. There were many other themes by the writers and the poets which shaped the movement and recovered the problems faced by them.
Zamindar of Zafar Ali Khan, Comrade and Hamdard of Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, and Al-Hilal of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad etc. were the prominent newspapers and magazines which performed their duties to express their hatred. When these newspaper and magazines were pleading the cause of the Muslims, the Allies imposed humiliating terms on vanquished Turkey.
After the 1st World War ended,Turkey had lost many of its territories, it was in this context the Indian Muslims started a movement that is known as the Khilafat Movement.
Protests in India
All India Khilafat Committee was formed at Bombay now known as Mumbai in July 1919 which shaped the activities of the Muslims regarding the Khilafat Movement. Their first Khilafat Committee conference was held in Delhiin 1919 where they used to discuss the issues occurring in the movement. In the first conference Congress leaders like Gandhi and Nehru also participated. It was due to Congress participation, the other major political parties join hands to assault the injustice with the Muslim community.
Following were the steps announced:
No Participation in Victory Celebrations: This was the first step taken by the participants of this Conference. As the British and the Allies had won the 1st World War they were celebrating their victory everywhere,India being a part of theBritish Empire was on the British’s side. So they decided in the Conference to boycott the victory celebration to show anger on the state of affairs and to express their point in more affective way.
Boycotting British Goods: The second step which they took is to boycott British goods, the purpose of doing this was to affect their economy. By adopting this British economy would drop drastically.
Non-Cooperation with the Government: This was the third step which they took during that time, the purpose of this was not at this stage but at the later stage they may also launch Non-Cooperation Movement.
The second Khilafat Conference which was an important one was held inAmritsarin December 1919. All the major political parties participated in this but the highlight of this Conference was that Maulana Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali, who were held behind bars for breaking British law in protest of British policies, also joined the Conference after their release from prison.
Without Maulana Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali contributions one cannot discuss the Khilafat Movement. They used to work with Congress party and also played a significant role in mobilizing the masses. They were well known as Ali brothers. The Ali brothers with several other leaders went to jail quite a few times due to shape up the Khilafat Movement and lead the Muslims. This procession happened whenever they were released.
At the end of the Khilafat Conference the Congress party decided to work together as there were similar problems inIndiawhich all of them were facing. For Muslims the Khilafat Movement was their priority compared to the other issues. Congress thought of combining up with the Muslims as they were also having problems against the British for the possession of theOttoman Empire. Congress and Muslims would have more effective movements together rather than working separately as their aim is to eliminate the British from their country. One of the issues which were faced during that time was Rowlett Act, 1919.
The Rowlett Act – 1919
This was a kind of black law, whereby the government had the power to arrest anybody they wanted without giving them any legal facility and the right to appeal. This law was meant for any criminal activities which took place, but actually they were intern for the people involved in political activities. This act was protested by both the Hindu and Muslim communities.
The Jallianwala Bagh Incident, April – 1919
The Jallianwala Bagh was a place inAmritsarwhere many people of different classes and societies came in order to protest against the Rowlett Act. To this protest the British government got extremely agitated and ordered the army to kill everyone present there. The gates were shut and many rounds were fired by the British. This massacre was one of the greatest tragedies thatIndiasaw. This allowed different political parties to challenge the British authority.
In the December of 1920 the famous Congress session was held atNagpurby Congress leader Mahatma Gandhi. Here Gandhi adopted the non-violent and non-cooperation movement. The first movement adopted by Gandhi was the non-cooperation movement and subsequently a couple of other movements were launched. The general agreement was that:
People with British titles to their names had to return those titles, for example Sir which was given to the Indians had to be returned.
The educational institutions and courts had to be boycotted.
Anyone whose job was under the British people had to resign.
Taxes should not be paid to the British Government.
People resigning from military and police jobs would be decided at a later stage. This was not launched but could be thought about later on.
The Khilafat Conference- Karachi- July 1921
In July 1921, the Khilafat conference was held atKarachiwhere there were mainly Muslim participants who expressed their loyalties towards the Turkish Sultan and the Khilafat. At that time they had been removed from their territory by the British powers. To dislodge foreign forces from the mainland they welcomed the efforts of the Ataturk. At that time the Ataturk was taking various steps to remove the foreign forces from their mainland ofTurkey. They felt that something new needed to be encouraged.
The Hijrat Movement 1920-21
The main reason of why the Hijrat movement took place was that the Indian Ulama or religious leaders thought ofIndiaas ‘Darul Harab’ where the Muslims were not safe. A certain place or a country where the Muslims are not allowed to perform their religious practices and activities is known as a ‘Darul Harab’. The Muslim heads (Ulama) said that the Muslims should move to the nearest safe place that was from ‘Darul Harab’ to ‘Darul Islam’. This caused a panic amongst the Muslims in India and as suggested the nearest ‘Darul Islam’ was Afghanistan which was Hijrat. A very large number of lower class people of society left India either on foot or with the help of bullock carts as the routes to Afghanistan were not developed. The properties were sold at very cheap rates as they were moving from their place to a place in search of Islam; a large scale of migration of people was seen. At first the Indians were welcomed. Later on the border was closed as the increase in the number of people could not be sustained due to Afghanistan being a poor nation and its own problems it told the Indian migrants to move back to its own country. Due to this there were loss of lives and belongings of several Muslims. Many Muslims died during this mission. Many of the people moved to Russia(Soviet Union) as they had nothing left in India. This was the way in which the Hijrat movement ended as it was all emotion based and not planned based.
The end of the Khilafat Movement
This was a movement where the Muslims of British India supported the Ottoman Empire to control their holy places but gradually the movement died out. The first thing which affected the movement was the Moplah revolt in Kalicut.
The Moplah Revolt-at Malabar Coast- Kalicut
The Moplah revolt started in 1921.The descendants of Arab Muslims were called as Moplahs. In the August of 1921 there was a revolt against the Hindu landlords because of their brutal treatment towards them. This wasn’t a religious issue. The Moplahs were suffering by the actions of the landlords so they revolted against them, but the police supported the landlords. This was projected as a Hindu Muslim issue by the local Hindu Unions. Due to this there was a lot of issue against the Muslims. These issues resulted in a bitter relationship amongst the Hindus and Muslims. A negative impact was seen in the Hindu Muslim unity because of the uprising. This was a reason for the end of Khilafat movement.
The Increase in Violence – 1921
The second reason to why the movement did not last was an increase in Violence. The Non- cooperation movement started by Gandhi was a peaceful and non violent movement. Seeing an increase in violent activities like the Chora Chori incident in Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi decided to end the Non-cooperation movement. This affected the Khilafat movement as Gandhi’s decision to end the Non-cooperation movement was not consulted with Khilafat movement leaders which thus created distrust between the two operative parties. This was another incident which weakened the Khilafat movement.
The developments in Turkey
This was the third reason to why the Khilafat movement ended. The Ataturk who controlled the military service emerged as leader. The powers of the Sultan were restricted. The chief of the Grand assembly was the Ataturk. Turkey abolished the Khilafat system. The Indian Muslims were fighting made no difference as the leadership had changed. This weakened the Khilafat movement in India.
The Hindu Muslim unity phase was extremely short.
It was seen that religion was a way to mobilize forces and organize masses.
Extra- territorialism was the basis of the start of the movement.
The Muslims suffered in the Khilafat movement.