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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Lessons of Khilafat Movement Durable Link to this BLOG
The Role of Khilafat Movement in Indian History

In an email message, patron Subhash Bhagwat pointed out to me how I have failed to document the importance of Khilafat movement in the History of India's Freedom Struggle. I hereby amend myself, and in the process, I cannot but relate current world events to what happened in post World War I period.

Turn your calendar to 1919, just after the defeat of Germany in the First World War.

The Allied forces dissolved the Ottoman empire based in Turkey, and abolished the post of Khalifa, or the symbolic head of all Muslims.

The Muslims of India, then, as now, had a very strong feeling of identity with the Muslims outside of India. (Please remember that this is much before the creation of Pakistan, or before the creation of Hindu nationalist forces like the Hindu Mahasabha or the RSS. ) They had seen the decline in the political fortunes of Islam as the Europeans powers conquered the Muslim land one after the other. The Anglo-Russian convention of 1908 had reduced India's next door neighbor Iran to a mere dependency. Afghanistan also suffered, as it was a bone of contention between Russia and Great Britain, and was now under the latter’s sphere of influence. (Link to more info at The Story of Pakistan)

The general impression among the Muslims of India was that the Western powers were waging a war against Islam throughout the world to rob it of all its power and influence. The Ottoman Empire was the only Muslim power which had maintained a semblance of authority and the Muslims of India wanted to save the Islamic political power from extinction, and the Indian Muslims revolted against the British to restore the post of Khalifa.

Gandhi saw this rage and anger against the British as an opportunity for courting the Muslim support in the Indian nationalist struggle, and extended the Congress's support for the Khilafat movement, that was started by Maulana Ali brothers, Muhammad and Shaukat.

At the outset it was a brilliant strategy by Gandhi, as the Hindus and Muslims of India were brought together like never before. However, in doing so, he also strengthened the extra-national attitude and the Pan-Islamic agenda of the Muslims and the Muslim League in particular.

Apparently, for India’s Muslims of the time,  the events in Turkey were more important to them than the Freedom of India, so much so that Gandhi was forced to withdraw his support for the Khilafat Movement. Ironically, Turkey itself subsequently saw the rise of Kemal Pasha who effectively de-Islamized his country’s politics.


History bears witness to what extent the after-effects of failure of Khilafat Movement damaged the Hindu-Muslim relationships. They would never be same again, especially after the creation of Pakistan.

Fast Forward to 2003. Most Muslims today feel that the Western forces are waging a war against Islam. Turkey is caught between the Western bully and a Islamic brother. Indian Muslims (as far as I know that is) care more for the events outside of India than the role of Muslims in the Indian Republic. America is pitting Kurds against Shiatites against Turks.

I'd like to read a blog entry in year 2113 on this next page of world history.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, April 7, 2003
Last Modified: 8/12/2003

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