The Khilafat Movement

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Khilafat Movement was a religio-political Movement launched by the Muslims of the British India for the retention of the Ottoman Caliphate or khilafat-e-usmania and for not letting for the Muslim holy places go under the control of the Non-Muslims. During the 1st World War Turkey sided with Germany and as Germany started to loose Turkey also started loosing its territory. By the time 1st World War came to an end in 1918 Turkey had lost most of its territory. Therefore the issue at that time was how the allied powers would treat Turkey, the Ottoman Empire or the Khilafat-e-usmania and most of its territory had been occupied and this Movement was on its peak from 1919 to 1922, although it went on during the later years.

Being brothers, the Indian Muslims realized their religious duty to help the Muslim country. It was the extra territorial attachments based on Islam. Another factor same to the first was that the Indian Muslims considered Ottoman Caliphate a symbol of unity of the Muslim world as Ummah.


What were the goals of this Movement?

  • Ottoman Khilafat should be kept intact.
  • Territorial solidarity of Turkey should be preserved.
  • Control of holy places of the Muslims should not be given to non-Muslims that were Non-Muslim powers.


This was the first major political Movement in India which involved the common man. Since the inception of the ML in 1906, the Muslims had started demanding certain safeguards from the British. They were also interacting with the other communities and the Congress party. However politics during that time from 1906 to 1919 was the elitist politics. That is politics of educated people and also people who are well off who could spare time who could spare money were involved in politics.

Khilafat Movement was the 1st movement where ordinary people were involved, or the ordinary Muslims were involved, people in the streets were involved and therefore politics at that time came down to the ordinary masses.

Mobilization capacity of Islam

Another important aspect of this Movement was that it showed the mobilization capacity of Islam amongst the Muslims. It showed the extent to which the Muslims of the British India held Islam and how much Islamic institutions are dear to them. So it clearly showed that Islam had a lot of mobilizational capacity and appeal for the ordinary people.

Extra-territorial attachments

Another aspect emphasizes the extra-territorial attachments of the Muslims of India based on Islam. Extra-territorial means that people feel attached to certain institutions and ideological framework that may be beyond the territorial boundaries of their own countries that is extra-territorial attachment. Amongst the Muslims extra-territorial attachments are always been very strong and these extra-territorial attachments are based on Islam. Two concepts of Islam are very strong force for the Muslims of British India.

Concept of Ummah

The concept of Ummah and this concept of Ummah that the Muslims living all over the World weither in any country belong to an ideological brotherhood of Islam. It’s a community or sense of community based on principles and teachings of Islam, therefore the concept of ummah had a lot of pull for the Muslims and that could be seen during the period of the Khilafat Movement.

The institution of Khilafat

The second aspect which created extra-territorial sentiments amongst the Muslims of this region was the institution of Khilafat.The Khilafat-e-Usmania whose primary seat was in Turkey and Khilafat-e-Usmania was seen by the Muslims of the British India as a kind of continuity from the original institution of Khilafat in Islam. Therefore they always paid much attention to the institution of Khilafat.You can go to the earlier periods and you will see that the sentiment of attachment is based on Islam was very strong.

The Balkan wars

For example if you go back to 1911and1912 you will find the Balkan wars. There was a war between Turkey and Italy and Italy had also attacked Libya. Therefore during that time when Balkan wars were going on the Muslims of British India demonstrated strong sentiments for the Muslims, for Turkey and a medical delegation was sent to Turkey to provide medical assistance to people affected by war, and now in 1919 when the same sentiment was emerging on the bases of Ummah and also on the bases of emotional attachment which the people had with the institution of Khilafat.Therefore there were lot of sentiments and lot of support for the demand that is the retention of Khilafat and for this reason Khilafat Movement becomes extremely important, If you want to know the political developments of India.


During first three decades of 20th century, there were poets ,there were writers who were focusing on common themes, like the generation and the decline of the Muslims in general and Muslims of this region in particular because the Muslims of this region were a matter of their direct interest, so they were focusing on the generation and the decline of the Muslims. The writings of the Muslim intellectuals provoked the sentiments for the preservation of Khilafat and retention of the Muslims control of the holy places. The Muslims journalism played a vital role to steer the direction of the struggle.Secon theme which you find there was how to revive or how to regenerate the past glory. For example in the poetry of Allam Iqbal if you read Baal-e-jibril,if you read Shikwa and Jawab-e-Shikwa,you read Masjid-e-Kartaba where all these themes are very strong that Muslims could regain, recover from their problems if they focus on Islam, if they develop the genuine spirit of Islam. If you read Musaddas-e-Haali you will find the same story that how the Muslims were declined and how they come out of their problems which they were facing. So these kinds of sentiments were very strong when this Movement started. 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 resentment. The Allies imposed humiliating terms on vanquished Turkey. These news papers were pleading the cause of the Muslims. The 1st

WW ended in 1918 and in 1919 the major peace treaty, Treaty of Versil was signed and it was very obvious the kind of treaty that was that ultimately the Turkey would loose all it had and then in 1920 conditions of this treaty for Turkey were known and those were very humiliating for Turkey. It had lost most of its territory even on the Main land Turkey that is where Turkey stands today foreign forces were present and it was in this context that the Muslims of this region started a movement that is described as the Khilafat Movement.

Protests in India:

All India Khilafat Committee was formed at Bombay in July 1919 and this gradually shaped up of the Muslims point of activity regarding Khilafat and in this Khilafat committee session they were discussing the issues of Khilafat which held the 1st Khilafat Conference in Delhi in November 1919. The first Khilafat Conference at Delhi in November 1919 was arranged in which the Congress leaders like Gandhi and Nehru participated. Congress also started to support the Khilafat Movement for the reason that I will discuss later on. In this way, the major political parties joined hands to assault the injustice with the Muslim community. These steps were announced:

No participation in victory celebrations was the 1st important step taken by the participants of this Conference. The British and the Allies had won the war and they were celebrating even in India because India being a part of the British Empire was on the side of the British therefore these people decided to boycott the victory celebration to show displeasure on the state of affairs and to express their point of view in an affective manner.

Second decision which they made here was that they started boycotting the British goods, in a way a kind of economic polices which they were adopting that they will not buy the British good which will ultimately affect their economy.

Non Cooperation with the Government was the 3rd important decision which they made at that time. It meant that not at this stage but at the later stage hey may also launch the Non cooperation movement.

The second Khilafat Conference (Amritsar) was held in Dec. 1919 and this was very important occasion. Like the 1st one all the major political parties participated in this conference and the most significant thing was that Maulana Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali who were in British detention for violating the British law in protest against the British policies were released and they also joined the session after being released from prison.Infact you can’t discuss the KM without discussing the contribution of Maulana M.A aJauhar and Maulana S.A.Jauhar and they were used to be described as the Ali brothers. They played very significant role in mobilizing the masses, they had formidable appeals at the common level and they also worked with the Congress party. And both the brothers along with other leaders went to jail for several times, they would come out demonstrate for Khilafat cause, lead Muslims the British arrest them along with other leaders but whenever they released they again come back and plead that cause with conviction.

After that the Khilafat conference and the Congress party began to work together because there were issues in India which were agitating others as well. Those issues were important for Muslims but Muslims attention primarily focused on Khilafat.There were other issues which were agitating the congress and the congress thought that Muslims have a set of grievances against the British. They are agitating for the retention of the Ottoman Empire then the Congress also had grievances against the British. So hey thought if they worked together they cooperate with each other then they could have a more effective impact rather than the Movements working separately and the issues which were agitating at that time were one was the issue of the Rowlett Act,1919.

Rowlett Act, 1919:

Rowlett Act was a black law introduced in India. To the law, the government got authority to persecute any Indian and the arrested had no facility of legal assistance and right to appeal just as the ‘Lettres de Cachet’ in France before the French Revolution. Jinnah resigned from the central legislature as a protest. This was a law which the British govt passed for arresting, detaining people who would be involved in what they would describe as the criminal activities but actually those were political activities. Those people could be punished swearly and without trial, so this Bill which was ultimately made into a law was protested both by the Muslims as well as the Hindus. When this issue developed.Quaid-e-Azam was very critical to this Act. He delivered critical speeches in the legislative council and outside and ultimately he resigned from his seat of the assembly in protest against this law, because he thought that this Act is a humiliating Act, violates basic cannons of justice and fairplay

Jallianwala Bagh Incident, April 1919:

The second issue which was agitating was agitating the person across the divide was the incident related to the Jallianwala Bagh.Jallianwala Bagh was situated in the city of Amritsar and against the backdrop of the Rowlett Act a big meeting was held in that Bagh.There were so many kinds of people and the British govt was so agitated that they dispatched a unit of the Army that went into the garden blocked all the entrance points and began shooting directly on the people and several hundred people were killed and seriously wounded which created a major uproar throughout India. General Dyer opened fire to disperse the throng that cast huge human casualties (379). It is considered one of the great tragedies in India. It is during this period that the British imposed martial law in Amritsar and certain other cities of the province of Punjab including Lahore, Gujranwala and a couple of other cities martial law was imposed. So in a way that became the 1st martial law in this region in the 20th century. So this Jallianwala Bagh incident also mobilized congress and other groups to move ahead and to pull their resources and to challenge the authority of the British govt.


Therefore the famous Congress session was held at Nagpur in Dec 1920 when the Congress at the instance of the Congress leaders Mahatma Gandhi adopted his non violent and non cooperation movement. This was the first non cooperation movement which Gandhi was launching. He launched couple of other movements subsequently and the general agreement was that the.

  • Indians would return all those titles which the British had given to them. For example one title which used to given to the Indians for their services was the title of Sir and the Indians used to use this title of Sir and there were several other titles. So the decision was to return these titles.
  • Boycott of the courts and the educational institutions.
  • Then they would resign their jobs.
  • It was also decided that at a later stage they would also resign from the police and military jobs. It was something which they kept in reserved. This was not really launched but some thoughts could be implemented later on.
  • Then they refused to pay taxes to the British govt.

Khilafat Conference, Karachi, July 1921:

A Khilafat Conference was held in Karachi in July 1921 and in this session the participants were predominantly Muslims expressed their loyalty to Khilafat and the Turkish Sultan which by that time had been disposed by its territory by the allied powers the British and the others and they had also decided to keep the movement going on. They welcomed Ataturk’s efforts to dislodge foreign forces from mainland. By that time Ataturk was emerging as a leader and he was taking steps to expel the foreign forces from Turkey and it was very early stage but nevertheless they welcomed the. That and they thought that it is something new that needs to be encouraged and needs to be endorsed.

Hijrat Movement 1920-21:

While this movement was going on with total Muslim commitment, with dedication with full sincerity. The Muslims were making their point of view known their loyalty their attachment by making all these kinds of sacrifices. Now while all this was happening another movement started here that was called the Hijrat Movement. That Movement primarily was there between 1920 to 1921.What was the Hijrat Movemen.This Movement was encouraged by the religious leaders. The Indian ulama (religious leaders) declared India ‘Darul Harab where Muslims are not safe.’ Darul Harab means the place (country) where Muslims are not allowed to perform their religious practices. In the said situation, the Muslims should migrate to the nearest safe place. The ulama issued verdicts that Muslims should move from Dar ul Harb to Darul Islam and in this case Dar ul Islam was next door country, Afghanistan. So the religious leaders encouraged Muslims from India to Afghanistan that is Hijrat.There was another reason due to this, this Movement was launched. There was an impression that King of Afghanistan would welcome these people who would go from India to Afghanistan. Therefore due to the encouragement which the Islamic leaders gave to the common people and a perception that the Afghanistan would welcome anybody who will go there, a very large number of people specially belonging to lower strata of society, the common people the poor people left from India to Afghanistan some on foot, some on carts because means of transportation were not so developed at that time that you could easily go to Afghanistan. Some of the people sold their property at very cheap rates; they disposed of their property, because they were moving from this place to another in the name of Islam, so the migration took place at large scale. Initially Afghans welcomed them. But as their number increased the Afghan govt closed the border because Afghanistan was also a poor country, it had its own problems and it was not able to cope with the migrants and pushed the migrants back to the Indian territories. This created a major dilemma for the Muslims who were migrating to Afghanistan It resulted in loss of lives and money. Many died during this mission. Some went to Soviet Union from Afghanistan because they had nothing in India now because they had sold what they had and where should they have go back. So in a way this Hijrat Movement ended on miseries for the Muslims because it was unplanned and it was based on emotions not taking into account the realities in Afghanistan. However the Hijrat Movement re-enforces the total commitment and identification to Islam and their ability to make all kinds of sacrifices for the ideology for the principles and teachings of Islam. I mention one point as a kind of footnote to the Hijrat Movement; some of the Muslims who were were able to cross over to Afghanistan gradually moved to Soviet Union and they stayed there and some of them came back to India subsequently while in the Soviet Union they were inspired by the socialist and the Marxist philosophy and some of them when they came back were active in socialist and Marxist movements in India. Overall the Hijrat Movement did created problems and hardships for the Muslims of this region

End of the Movement:

The Khilafat Movement that was started by the Muslims of the British India for the retention of the institution of the Ottoman Empire and for retaining the control of the Muslims holy places, that movement gradually fizzled out. How that did happened a number of developments from 1921 to onward contributed to that. The first important development that adversely affected the movement was the Mopla Revolt on the Malabar area in the Kalicut.

Moplah Revolt Malabar Coast, near Kalicut

This incident took place in 1921.Moplahs were the descendents of the Arab Muslims settled in the Sub-Continent even before the arrival of Muhammad Bin Qasim. In August 1921, they revolted against Hindu landlords whose treatment was very brutal with them. The issue was not the religious. The uprising was against the injustice against the suffering which the Moplas were facing and as they revolted the police took the side of the landlords. The local Hindu unions began to project to this as the kind of Hindu Muslim issue, there was a lot of propaganda against the Muslims with reference to this uprising and there were calls from some of the Hindu organizations to wake up against to face the challenge which was emerging Later this clash changed as Moplahs versus the Police and Hindu. This embittered the Hindu-Muslim relations. This uprising had a negative impact on the Hindu Muslim unity that was being demonstrated in the Khilafat Movement. The Congress party and the Khilafat Committee were very cooperative and were working together. The Muslim leaders were addressing meetings along with Gandhi and others, so it was a rare demonstration of Hindu Muslim unity and that cooperative sentiment was undermined by this incident.

Increase in Violence 1921:

The 2nd incident that affected this Movement was the increase in violence when in 1920 Non Cooperation Movement was launched by Gandhi it was argued that this would be a peaceful Movement, this would be a non violent movement but the Indians would demonstrate against the British in a peaceful manner even the British will use force on them they will not respond. However with the passage of time violence entered this non cooperation there was an increase in violence day by day and the Chorachori Incident (UP) in February 1922 worsened the situation.Chora Chori is a small place in Uter Pradesh (UP) and here what happened was the Congress activist attacked a police station as a part of agitation against the British. The Congress volunteers set a police station on fire and as a result about 21 policemen were burnt alive. There were other violence and due to this increase in violence Gandhi suddenly decided to call off the Non Cooperation movement.

Gandhi, s decision did affect this movement firstly, it was a sudden and individual decision not consulting the Khilafat Movement people because they were working together and suddenly the Non Cooperation Movement was called off which adversely affected the Movement and created distrust between the two groups that were operative at that time. So this was an incident that weakened the movement and they began to diverge or move in different directions.

Developments in Turkey:

3rd and most significant development relates to Turkey itself, things began to change in Turkey. In 1922 Ataturk who was in the military service in the Ottoman Empire emerged as a national leader. He collected his colleagues and undertook the operation against the occupying foreign forces and he was able to expel the foreign forces which strengthened his position. In Nov, 1922 the new political developments under Ataturk that had developed there restricted the powers of the Sultan.Infact Sultan Abdul-Hamid was replaced by another person, then in October 1922 Ataturk was elected as the head of the state, he was appointed Chief of the state by Grand National Assembly. Turkey became Republic and in March 1924 the Grand National Assembly the parliament of Turkey abolished the institution of Khilafat.In March 1924, Khilafat was abolished. So in a way the very institution for which the Muslims were fighting had been replaced by Turkey’s new leadership that emerged, the present day Turkey that emerged in 1922.This caused a widespread resentment among the Indian Muslims. They sent delegations to Turkey but failed to achieve their objectives. As the Institution was abolished the movement became weak and disappeared gradually and this is how Khilafat Movement ended.


It can be concluded as under;

  1. It was re-affirmation of the reality that religion is a mobilizing force and especially Islam has mobilization capacity to organize masses.
  2. It was the movement launched on the basis of extra-territorialism. Later, no such movement but Pan-Islamic sentiments continued.
  3. It resulted in the sufferings of the Muslims
  4. Hindu-Muslim unity proved short-lived.
  5. Reactivation of the Muslim League and other Muslims organizations to restart their activities as a separate nation.


Anonymous said...

what were the failures of the movement?

Anonymous said...

Well if Afghanistan refused to entertain Muslim migrants and then Turkey make nationalistic in character as opposed to a religious state. Then doesn't that defeat the concept of Muslim Ummah. The Ummah only existed for South-Asians? Not the Afghanis or the Turks.

Anonymous said...

there were no of reasons for the failure of this movement ,if you seriously want to know than let me know.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

thanks for providing such useful information.

Anonymous said...

why a lack of pictures from history?

Ibisajid said...

What was the importance of Khilafat Movement

Anonymous said...

nice one...

Anonymous said...

This movement showed that muslim nation not bounded by boundries in this way muslims never be a minority...this concept help in the independence movement...:)

Anonymous said...

After reading the whole story about KHILAFAT MOVEMENT, still I'm in confusion. :(

Anonymous said...

The Khilafat Movement failed to achieve its goals. One of the main reasons for the failureof the Khilafat Movement was that the main leader of the Khilafat Movement, MaulanaMuhammad Ali Jauhar was arrested and imprisoned. The Hijrah Movement also failed. TheEmigrants found themselves in a crisis when they returned back. They became busier in settlingthemselves than on paying attention to the Movement. Secondly, the Chauri Chaura incident, inwhich a lot of policemen were burnt to death, frightened Gandhi who immediately called off the Non-cooperation Campaign. This really annoyed the Muslims as it took off the pressurefrom the British. Thirdly, the Turks themselves abolished the caliphate as they too wantedTurkey to be a nation instead of an empire. Kamal Attaturk took control of Turkey andabolished the system of Caliphate. Hence there was no point in continuing a movement whichhad been destroyed the Turks themselves but it was still a devastating blow for millions of Muslims

Anonymous said...

there were many reasons for the failure of the khilafat movement:
-the members of the khilafat movement were more concerned with the fate of the khalifa than the western powers and the people of Turkey.

- the hindus and the Muslims had different aims. The hindus wanted independence from the british while the Muslims had the aim of gaining power back to the Caliph.

-the movement also created a strong anti-british feeling. this made gandhi call of the campaign before kemal ataturk abolished the movement.

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Anonymous said...

Khilafat movement actualy practice of pakistan movement, because that struggle gave knowledge to muslims of india, that how the movement could be managed and other main thing include in the mind of muslims of india that hindu majority are not sincered with muslims.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

mustafa kamal ata kufr not a hero he was a bloody bastard

Aneela Kami said...

I'm confused..

Aneela Kami said...

I'm confused..

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Anonymous said...

You just copied this from sir asim's notes.

Anonymous said...

dude notes not a whole damn chapter

jamshedkhan said...

Why this movement was started by the Indian muslim only why not in other Islamic countries?

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