Nehruvian history describes the Khilafat movement as an example of Hindu-Muslim Unity. The average, ignorant Indian confuses the “Khilafat” with “Against (Khilaf) the British” But as usual they are both wrong. The Khilafat Movement is the genesis of perhaps the bloodiest genocide of Hindus perpetrated after the death of Aurangzeb



Caliph (Khalifa) – The ruler of the momineen, representative & successor to the prophet, a veritable shadow of allah on earth. Post Wold War 1, in the year 1919, these exalted, pompous sounding titles were nothing more than meaningless words. They were so hollow that even the Turks (of the erstwhile Ottoman Empire & Caliphate of Islam) wanted to bury these hollow words along with the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. In 1918-19 Turkey was in the process of remodeling itself into a modern, equitable state under its firebrand, modernist leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

In Turkey, Ataturk was trying to build a new secular, modern template for the Islamic world BUT in India the muslim leadership was aghast at the thought. They wanted the same regressive Caliphate, led by the King of Ottomans (Turkey). The legacy of Shah Waliullah Dehalvi had been so successful that the recently converted muslims of India had started believing that they were descendants of Arabs & Turks, were racially superior to & different from Hindus & that they were ordered by their Book to live only under a Caliph. In 1919, Indian muslims launched a movement designed to pressure the British to preserve the 1914 boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. (A crass display of extra territorial loyalties).

What triggered this quasi romantic adherence to an outdated idea (that even the Turks had rejected)? It was the favorite dog whistle of the sub continent muslim – the ummat ul momineen. (This again was a legacy of the late wahhabi cleric Shah Waliullah).


The sudden rise in pan islamism/ummah was primarily due to a feeling of disquiet at the rising Hindu nationalist sentiment& cultural revival. For the last 150 years Indian muslims had been bred on the fallacy of racial superiority & inherent right to rule the kaffir Hindu. The Indian muslim thus looked at the ummah for strength & validation of their racial kinship in their endeavor to once again subjugate Hindus.


The spread of pan-Islamism in India can be traced to the Khilafat Movement via pan-Islamism in the Russo-Turkish War of 1876-78. In support of this contention The Guardian in 1924, quoted the following “The Islamic World was aroused to the fact that the area of Islamic independence was steadily narrowing and the Quranic theory that Islam should dominate over every other religion, was giving way to the contrary system. It was felt that the only Muslim power which could deal with Europe as an equal was Turkey; and pan-Islamism everywhere inculcated the doctrine that Turkey should be strengthened and supported”. The Sultan Abdul Hamid II was urged to advance through Persia into India and make common cause with the Sudanese Mehdi and restore Egypt to an Islamic Sovereign.

If this seemed a strange behavior for Indian muslims, the next set of events further display the axiomatic saying “begani shadi mein abdulla deewana” (“बेगानी शादी में अबदुल्ला दीवाना”)

The 1911 war between Ottomans (Turkey) & Europe (Italy, Britain, Russia) saw the Ottomans defeated and loose territory to the Christians. This inflamed the Indian muslim who, in his fantasy world, felt that defeat of Ottomans was defeat of islam and hence by extension – HIS.

Assistant Director of Intelligence Bureau, Mr Petrie in 1912 noted in his reports that consequent to the above war, muslims felt that British were no longer the trusted custodians of islam in India. This feeing was further strengthened by the reversal of partition of Bengal. Bengal Partition of 1905 had been viewed by Indian muslims as a victory over their hindu brethren consequently its reversal was a loss keenly felt by the muslims.

Petrie in his report further identifies 2 muslim leader as possible instigators of unrest – Zaffar Ali of Lahore & Muhammed Ali of Calcutta & a close confidant of Gandhi. Petrie further state that “The Muhammadan is always a potential fanatic and once that fanaticism is aroused, it may go to great lengths. It is peculiarly easy to confuse in the Muslim mind, the issues of religion and politics…”

Petrie rightly laments the fulsome praise & support expressed by many Hindu nationalists and leaders to the muslim islamist cause. This fulsome support to the islamist cause would in a few years come back to bite the Hindu hand and cause massive damage to life, money & society of Hindus in form of massive anti Hindu riots during the Khilafat Andolan eg – the Moplah Riots in Kerala which saw massacre of 50,000 Hindus, rape of 10,000 Hindu women & conversion of lakhs of Hindus by the Moplah muslims.

As the year 1912 progressed, there was increasing evidence of rising islamic fanaticism among the Indian muslims. The poster boy of Nehruvian historians, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, used his paper Al Hilal to call for boycott of British goods – not as a mark of protest against British rule but as a pressure tactic to force the British to support Turkey.

In March 1913 a fatwa was published in the Aligarh Institute Gazette in which it was urged that muslims, as brothers of the Turks, should curse those who, wished to help the oppressors & that no opportunity should be lost to impair the strength of the enemies of Turkey. It was specially added that the British were not exempt from the application of this fatwa. In Lucknow, Maulvi Wahid-ud-Din Salim in his paper, the Muslim Gazette, demanded open expressions of loyalty on the part of muslims for the Turks. He stated that the Quranic injunction to obey God and government only applied to muslim rulers – meaning – he called for revolt and unrest against the British, not for India but for Turkey (a place none of these islamists had ever been.

A report submitted to the British government by Inspector Isemonger of the Punjab Police, on 20th February 1914, detailed the potential danger posed by a new islamic organization established by Mushir Husain Kidwai of Gudia, Barabanki, United Provinces/Uttar Pradesh. This organization named Anjuman-i-Kuhddam-i-Kaaba. This organization had the express agenda of maintaining the honor & safety of the Kabba & the defense of islamic holy places from Kaffir aggression. The members were asked to be ready at all times to sacrifice their lives & property in the fight against Kaffirs. Not surprising this organization was supported by the infamous Ali Brothers—Muhammad and Shaukat & by Abul Kalam Azad & Abdul Bari (all of these stalwart muslim leaders were also complicit in subsequent anti Hindu riots during the Khilafat Movement.


After the end of mughal rule in 1857, the Turk/Ottoman empire was the only surviving sunni islamic kingdom left. The Turkish sultan therefore became a symbol of legitimacy of rule of islamic law & past islamic glory. Increasing radicalization by teachings of Shah Waliullah & his students made the Turkish Sultan into a legitimate Islamic caliph/khalifah. Soon the name of Sultan Murad & Abdul Hamid II were being read in the Friday Khutbas in masjids and madarsas across India. Each time there was a war between the Ottomans & Europe, Indian muslims raised funds for the Turks.

The British were the first to exploit this pro-Turkish feeling among Indian muslims. During 1857 war of independence, the British obtained a proclamation from the the Turkish Sultan Murad V that called on Indian muslims to remain loyal to British rule. (this is one of the reasons for non participation of Indian mulsims in India’s struggles for Independence – because a Turkish Sultan had ORDERED them to remain loyal to the British Raj)

Indian muslims’ sentiments of ummat ul mimineen fueled sympathy for a Turkish sultan & British policies combined to magnify the importance of Ottoman empire in the eyes of Indian muslims. Besides the inherent fundamentalism, the British policies encouraged extra territorial loyalties among Indian muslims.


Sultan Abdul Hamid II used the rising extra territorial islamic identity among Indian muslims for his own benefit. He appointed Jamaludin-al-Afghani as his envoy & chief propagandist to bolster pro-Turkish sentiments among Indian muslims. Jamaludin’s pan islamism stressed the role of religion as a socially cohesive identity. He used the symbol of Sultan/Caliph as a way of fighting rise of western powers. Indian muslims were more than willing to oblige. He used religious identity as a tool to prevent any sort of reconciliation between muslims & their non muslim compatriots (Hindus/Christians). To the few nationalist muslism he positioned religious identity as protonationalism – this idea cunningly, put religious loyalty above national loyalty.

Jamaludin visited India many times and his ideas made local Indian muslim leaders see the utility of using religion to garner & hold onto political power. Due to his epoch making impact on Indian muslim identity & impact Jamaludin is hailed as the Father of Pan Islamism in India & political ancestor of future Indian political leaders.

As the perils of Ottomans continued into the 20th century, the pan islamic sympathy transformed into the clarion call of “Islam khatre mein” (Islam is in danger). This call became the driving force of radicalization and subsequent anti-Hindu riots in the early part of the 20th century.


End of the 1857 war of independence saw the start of 3 political movements that would have impact on the type of independence we won & the nature of future of India as a nation.

One was the formation of Indian National Congress discussed in the post :

The other two were essentially islamic in nature – One was led by by the Ulema – it was centered on setting up of a chain of madarsas and islamic seminaries. This movement was focused on strengthening islamic identity through spread of islamic law and islamic education. The other was a more western/modern movement – led by western educated & modernist mulsims. This movement was centered around Aligarh (later Aligarh Muslim University). Though on the face of it, both these movements were innocuous in appearance, these islamic movements led to the demand of Khilafat Movement –> Anti Hindu Riots —> Demand for & subsequent division of India.

à suivre


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