What was the Khilafat Movement?

6 minute read
khilafat movement

The Khilafat Movement was started in the year 1919. Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali started the Khilafat Movement and the aim was to unite the entire Muslim community together for this national movement. The Khilafat movement aimed to put pressure on the British Government to change its attitude to Turkey. At the beginning of 1919, the All Indian Khilafat Committee was formed under the leadership of Muhammad Ali, Shaukat Ali, Ajmal Khan, Hasrat Mohani and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. In the same year, the Khilafat Conference was held in Delhi to boycott British goods.

Why was the Khilafat Movement Started?

There are two major reasons behind the Khilafat Movement. We have mentioned the causes below.

  1. Harsh treaty with the sultan of Turkey (Khilafat) by the British Government.
  2. The Khalifa should have sufficient territories to rule as Khalifa was only allowed to rule over the sacred places of the Muslim community.
khilafat movement
Credits: Quora

Causes Of the Khilafat Movement

There were many causes behind the Khilafat movement. They are – 

  • The main reason was the fear of losing the Islamic Caliphate or Khilafat. The Caliph who was called the Khalifa or was the leader of the global Muslim community. 
  • After World War I, the Allies, however, planned to destroy Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.
  • This was a worry for the Indian Muslims because they were afraid that it would be the end of the Khilafat. This in turn affects the overall unity and brotherhood of Islam. 
  • Muslims in India were worried about the fate of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. These places were running under the administration of the Ottoman Empire. If Turkey had lost their power, they dreaded that non-Muslims would rule the holy cities. The idea disturbed the religious feelings of Indian Muslims.
  • Another reason was the feeling of treachery amongst the Indian Muslims. During the war, India supported the British by sending troops to fight the Allies. The British promised to protect Muslim interests after the war. But now, they planned to destroy the Ottoman Empire. This shocked the Indian Muslims and made them feel betrayed. 
Maulana Mohammad Ali and Shaukat Ali (Ali brothers).Credits: X.Com

  • Extremist views of leaders like Maulana Mohammad Ali and Shaukat Ali supported the movement. They spread the conception that the end of the Khilafat would lead to the decline of Islam as a world religion.
  • They set it up to fight for the freedom and rights of all Muslims. This encouraged other Muslims to join hands in the protest. Mahatma Gandhi’s backing also gave the movement a big encouragement.
  • Gandhi also saw this as an opportunity to create an alliance of Hindu-Muslim communities against the Britishers. He connected the issue of the Khilafat with the Indian freedom movement. 
  • The declaration of jihad by the Ottoman caliph gave further impetus to the movement. The caliph called all Muslims to wage jihad against the Christian nations. It directly affected the religious sentiments of Indian Muslims. Many joined the movement intending to support jihad.

In short, the Khilafat movement originated from the fear of the Indian Muslims that the end of the Ottoman Empire would negatively affect Islam as a religion. The movement was motivated by feelings of betrayal by the British and the extremist views of Muslim leaders. Gandhi’s support and the Ottoman caliph’s call to jihad turned it into a massive demonstration that shook the British.

Also Read – Bardoli Satyagraha Leader, Background, and Features

Rise and Spread of the Khilafat Movement in India

The movement originated in Gujarat under the leadership of Maulana Mohammad Ali and Shaukat Ali. They organized public meetings to spread awareness about the looming threats of the Khilafat. 

  • Their speeches touched the religious feelings of Muslims and created awareness against the Britishers.
  • The Ali brothers travelled to many parts of India including Lucknow, Delhi, Bombay and Allahabad.
  • Their speeches concentrated on the unity of pan-Islamism and the religious obligation to protect the Khilafat. It resonated well with Muslims and many supporters joined them.
  • Mahatma Gandhi also associated Khilafat with India’s freedom movement. He proclaimed non-cooperation as a way to fight for the two reasons simultaneously.
  • His participation further gave a boost to the movement and influenced Indians irrespective of their religions.
  • Gandhi called for the Khilafat delegation to demand Muslim rights from the Britishers. This increased the visibility of the movement and forced the British to take cognizance.
  • Gandhi’s call for civil disobedience and non-cooperation also gave the Muslims a platform to participate in the protests.
  • The Khilafat Committee expanded the reach of the movement. It further established branches in many parts of India to mobilize the community of Muslims even at the grassroots level. 
  • The Committee organized hartals, strikes and demonstrations which was attended by thousands of people. 
  • This brought international eyeballs and attention to the Khilafat movement. 
  • The usage of non-violent strategies such as strikes and picketing helped the movement spread widely. 
  • Slogans of Gandhi for non-violence attracted the Indian Muslims and made the movement acceptable to Indians. This helped overcome initial doubts and attract more supporters.

The speeches of the Ali brothers, the support of Gandhi, the organization of the Khilafat Committee and the use of non-violent protests helped attract millions of supporters. Despite many internal challenges, the movement highlighted the unity of Hindus and Muslims in India’s freedom struggle. Through simple but effective tactics, the movement spread its message far and wide.

Also Read – What is Rowlatt Act and Jallianwala Bagh Massacre?

Consequences of the Khilafat Movement

The consequences of the Khilafat movement for India were – 

  • The Khilafat movement brought unity between Hindu -Muslim communities. Hindus collaborated and supported the community of Muslims in this movement. This helped defuse communal tensions for a while.
  • This strengthened the Indian National Congress. For the first time, the movement influenced Muslims en masse to the Congress. 
  • During this period important Muslim leaders like Shaukat Ali and Maulana Mohammad Ali joined the Congress, and because of this Congress was recognised as an all-India party.
  • The movement further led to the Moplah revolt, wherein, the Britishers did not extend their support to the Khilafat movement and some Muslims revolted violently in Kerala against the administration.
  • The Moplah revolt (1921) was brutally suppressed by the Britishers. It showcased the problems of combining religion and politics. 
  • The movement slowly gained Islamic communism and removed the secular Muslim leaders from Congress. 
  • Voices of leaders, who wanted Hindu-Muslim unity like Maulana Azad lost their charm and influence. Gandhiji tried to intervene and unite the Khilafat leaders with that of the Muslim League but eventually failed. 
Credits: india-a2z

After this movement, the Muslim League became a strong Muslim community organization which focused on Muslim homelands and separate electorates. When the Khilafat movement was termed a failure, the Muslims by then also started distrusting Congress. This resulted in an increase of mutual suspicion between the two communities.

The violent suppression of the rebellion of Moplah and the failure of the Khilafat movement led to feelings of powerlessness and victimisation amongst some Muslim youths. The movement showed that religion still had a strong pull for Indians, especially Muslims. It showed that Indian nationalism had not completely defeated internal communalism. Many Hindus and Muslims felt duped. After the movement failed, many Muslims felt betrayed by the Hindus and vice-versa. Muslims then focused on providing themselves with political security, widening the gap between Hindus and Muslims.

However, if we see the bigger picture, from 1919 to 1922, the Hindu and Muslim communities were united. Muslim leaders and Congress leaders supported each other for the Khilafat Movement and Non-cooperation. People took part in these mass movements and adopted peaceful means of protest.

Quick Facts About Khilafat Movement

  • Khilafat Aandolan or Khilafat Movement in India was started in 1919 and ended in 1924.
  • Mahatma Gandhi became part of Khilafat Andolan in 1920. He was one of the great personalities of this movement 
  • Khilafat Movement (1919-1924) and the Non-cooperation Movement (1920-22) are important movements after the First World War.
  • In the 1920 Calcutta Session of Congress, the non-cooperation movement was started to support the Khilafat movement.


What is Khilafat Movement in India?

Khilafat Movement or Khilafat Andolan was an Islamic protest in India against the British Government. Later, congress leaders joined this protest including Mahatma Gandhi.

What was the reason behind Khilafat Movement?

The bad behaviour of the British government towards the Sultan of Turkey (Khilafat) was the major reason behind Khilafat Movement.

Development of Railways in IndiaAugust Declaration of 1917
Indian Press Act of 1910Ahmedabad Mill Strike of 1918
C.R. Formula of 1944Cabinet Mission of 1946
Salt Satyagraha MovementKheda Satyagraha
Bardoli SatyagrahaWhen Is The Champaran Satyagraha Date?

That’s all about the Khilafat Movement! If you want to read more articles like this, you can get Study notes on the Modern History of India here. Also, you can visit our general knowledge page on Indian History!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *