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Khilafat Movement (1919-1924)

The major players of the First World War anticipated and planned the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire into many regions since the very inception of war. Territories and the people led by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire were conglomerated. The French and the British army occupied Istambul in November 1918 which led to the partitioning of the Empire. The Ottoman Empire faced a military defeat on account of being with the Central Powers.

The Versailles Treaty (1919) weakened its political status though the victorious European powers promised not to dismantle the Caliphate of the Ottomans. But the Treaty of Sevres (1920) disintegrated the Empire into Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine.

The outcries of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire spilled over to the rest of the world especially the Muslim world felt a deep grief on it. But the Indian Muslims re-acted the most on the breakdown of the Caliphate, the symbol of veneration for the Muslims of the whole world. They protested against the policy of the British and forced them to support the Caliphate. Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar bore four years imprisonment for the cause. Maulana Shaukat Ali, his brother and other Muslims like Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Abul Kalam Azad, Raees ul Muhajireen Barrister Jan Mohammad Jonejo, Doctor Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, and Sheikh Shaukat Ali Siddique followed him in the protest. Khilafat Manifesto was published which called upon the British government to support the Ottoman Empire. The Muslims had an alliance with the Indian National Congress to protect the Caliphate and Swaraj. A Non-Cooperation movement broke out in the country and Hindus and Muslims came closer to each other. Also Jamia Millia Islamia was founded in 1920 to educate the Muslims and cope with the problems around.

Khilafat Movement went successfully as the Non-Cooperation by the Hindus and Muslims worked and the Muslims were thrown behind the bars as the retaliation by the British Raj. While the All India Muslim League, Hindu Mahasbha and the moderate politicians did not favor the Khilafat Movement because, in their opinion, it was serving only the Pan-Islamic agenda. As the days passed by, the Congress chickened out of its stance and Mohandas Gandhi was criticized by the Ali Brothers because the former heralded an end to the Khilafat Movement after the Chaura Chauri demise where 23 policemen were put to death. The movement split the Muslims into two factions: those who fought for the Ottoman Empire and those who remained moderate.

While the Muslims were taking pains for the Caliphate, Mustafa Kamal Pasha, the Turkish Nationalist premier took hold of Turkey in 1924 and discarded the Ottoman Empire and founded the basis of a secular state having no concern with the Caliphate. It jolted the Muslims of India who sacrificed for the sake of the Empire but their sacrifices drained away with the secular flow of the Turkish government.

About SAIMA ASHRAF

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