What caused the failure of the Khilafat Movement?

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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.

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The Khilafat Movement (1919-1920) failed for numerous reasons. First of all, this movement was launched by the Muslims to influence the British government in the aftermath of World War I. Since Turkey sided with Germany during World War I, they were on the losing side of the war and had little bargaining power. After the war, the Allies formed a pact called the Treaty of Sèvres (1920). This treaty forced much of the Ottoman empire (Turkey) to be dismantled and divided up the empire's lands, giving regions of the former empire to the Europeans.

The Khilafat Movement hoped to persuade the British government to keep its promises. The Non-Cooperation Movement was launched, and the Indians boycotted, left jobs and walked out of schools and colleges. Gandhi supported this movement as long as it was non-violent. This movement was followed by the Hijrat Movement where thousands upon thousands of Indians migrated to Afghanistan. However, Afghanistan closed its borders, and many perished in this migration. Next, the Chaura Chauri Incident occurred where a mob burned 22 policemen alive. Ghandi called off his support of the non-cooperation agreement at that time of violence. All of these events contributed to the failure of the movement.

Lastly, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk abolished Khilafat once and for all in becoming Turkey's first president. The Khilafat Movement was at an end.

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