The Khilafat or "caliphate" movement of 1919 to 1924 was a political and religious movement among Muslims in the British colony of India. The goal of the movement was to preserve the Ottoman caliphate as the spiritual center of Islam despite the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War...
The Khilafat or "caliphate" movement of 1919 to 1924 was a political and religious movement among Muslims in the British colony of India. The goal of the movement was to preserve the Ottoman caliphate as the spiritual center of Islam despite the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.
The Ottoman Empire, centered in Turkey, was ruled by a sultan who held both political power over the empire and spiritual authority as the caliph. Leaders of the Khilafat movement, such as Shaukat ʿAlī, Muḥammad ʿAlī, and Abul Kalam Azad, hoped to convince or pressure the British to allow the defeated sultan to retain his spiritual authority as a symbol for Muslims worldwide. To achieve this goal, they allied with Hindu nationalist leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and committed to a strategy of nonviolent protest in a campaign known as the Non-Cooperation Movement.
This alliance between Indian Muslims and Hindus was initially successful at putting a great deal of pressure on the British authorities governing India. However, the Khilafat movement ultimately failed for four main reasons.
First, the Khilafat delegation sent to London in 1920 was interpreted by the British government as an eccentric expression of pan-Muslim sentiment rather than a serious movement with legitimate goals. In the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, the victorious allied powers dismembered the Ottoman Empire and took over many of its territories as "mandates" or colonies, leaving only Turkey itself under Ottoman rule.
Second, the unity of Muslim and Hindu Indians was shaken by several incidents, including the emigration to Afghanistan of more than 18,000 Muslims as well as the violence of the 1921 Moplah rebellion by Indian Muslims.
Third, the initial successes of the Non-Cooperation Movement provoked an intense crackdown by British authorities, leading to Gandhi's arrest and suspension of the Non-Cooperation campaign.
Finally, Turkish nationalists in what was left of the Ottoman Empire did not share the Khilafat movement's goal of protecting the Muslim caliphate. Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk officially abolished the sultanate in 1922 and then the caliphate itself in 1924, putting an end to the political and spiritual authority of the Ottoman Empire. Now that there was no longer a caliph in Istanbul, the Khilafat movement lost its reason for existing.