What is the Khilafat Movement? Why did Mahatma Gandhiji support it?
In the tumultuous landscape of colonial India, a remarkable movement emerged that sought to uphold the principles of justice, freedom, and self-determination.
The Khilafat Movement, which garnered widespread attention and support in the early 20th century, was a stirring display of solidarity among Indian Muslims in response to the injustices faced by their fellow believers in far-off lands.
This pivotal historical event not only galvanized the Muslim community but also attracted a surprising ally, Mahatma Gandhi. The convergence of these two seemingly disparate forces raises intriguing questions about the intersection of religion, politics, and nonviolent resistance during a critical juncture in India’s struggle for independence.
What is Khilafat Movement?
Khilafat movement, a force that arose in India in the early 20th century as a result of Muslim fears for the integrity of Islam. These fears were aroused by Italian (1911) and Balkan (1912–13) attacks on Turkey—whose sultan, as caliph, was the religious head of the worldwide Muslim community—and by Turkish defeats in World War I.
They were intensified by the Treaty of Sèvres (August 1920), which not only detached all non-Turkish regions from the empire but also gave parts of the Turkish homeland to Greece and other non-Muslim powers.
A campaign in defence of the caliph was launched, led in India by the brothers Shaukat and Muḥammad ʿAlī and by Abul Kalam Azad. The leaders joined forces with Mahatma Gandhi’s noncooperation movement for Indian freedom, promising nonviolence in return for his support of the Khilafat movement.
In 1920, the latter movement was marred by the ḥijrat, or exodus, from India to Afghanistan of about 18,000 Muslim peasants who felt that India was an apostate land.
It was also tarnished by the Muslim Moplah rebellion in south India (Malabar) in 1921, the excesses of which deeply stirred Hindu India. Gandhi’s suspension of his movement and his arrest in March 1922 weakened the Khilafat movement still further.
It was further undermined when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk drove the Greeks from western Asia Minor in 1922 and deposed the Turkish sultan in the same year; it finally collapsed when he abolished the caliphate altogether in 1924.
Why did Mahatma Gandhi support Khilafat Movement?
By mid-1920, the Khilafat leaders had made common cause with Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement, promising non-violence in return for Gandhi’s support of the Khilafat Movement, whereby Hindus and Muslims formed a united front against British rule in India. Support was also received from Muslim theologians through the Jamiyat-al-Ulama-i-Hind (the Indian Association of Muslim Theologians).
Gandhi viewed khilafat as the best opportunity to bring Indian Muslims to the front of the Indian freedom struggle. It was so important in the History of India because for the first time Muslims are also come up against the administration. Gandhi had no other option to integrate Muslims with the national cause.
This struggle didn’t make communalism in the country. But it was the feeling of being betrayed after Gandhi’s immediate suspension of the non-co-operation movement which was organised jointly organized with Khilafat movement after Choury Choura incident was the main cause behind that.
Khilafat movement is also known as the non-cooperation movement which was against the British. The representative of Congress of that time was Gandhiji who started this campaign against Britishers. Non-cooperation movement meant that: people will no more support or co-operate with the British Government or stay under the rule of this government.
Gandhiji wanted an India which had the freedom and is governed by a systematic and democratic government that’s why Gandhiji supported the movement.