The year is 1918 and the destructive first world war is almost ending and one of the most important Milestones that marked in the end of the first world war was something called a armistice of Mudros, which has signed on 30th October 1918. Mudros is a small town in Greece today, but used to be an important neighbour base for several centuries including the first world war and this Armistice of Mudros, Treaty Mark the end of the hostilities between the Allied Forces and the Turkish Ottoman Empire. One of the important conditions of the Armistice of mudros was the partitioning of the Turkish Ottoman Empire also known as the Ottoman caliphate. The actual partition occurred in something called the Treaty of sevres which was signed in August 1920 in a porcelain Factory in the town of Severus in France. This treaty eventually gave rise to the new independent nations, which are since come to be known as Syria Lebanon and Yemen among other small nation states in that region. So with this treaty with this Armistice the 400 year long Turkish caliphate or the ottoman caliphate of the Ottoman Empire came to a crashing end. So the sultan who was ruling during that time in the treaty was signed was somebody named Sultan Muhammad the 6th. According to term of the armistice he was allowed to merely retain his position and his title but was virtually powerless. So something else was happening during this time The people of turkey the ordinary citizens of turkey saw this Armistice as a great National humiliation and they held the sultan responsible for it and they directed their anger against the Sultan and this was this movement as it instant intensified Mustafa Kemal Pasha became the head of the leader of this movement. So the Sultan panicked and he rang up his cousin named Abdul majeed and over night he declared that Abdul Majid is the caliph or the Khalifa of whatever was left of the Ottoman Empire. That was desperate hope to kind of you know, quill the anger of his citizens. But this move only backfire against him in a very bad way because by that time the entire Muslim World in that region including the Arabs and some in Egypt had completely rejected the caliph’s authority and this is where our story really begins. So the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate caused a massive shock in the most unlikely place on the Earth. India not an independent India, which was then the colony of the Imperial British but more specifically in India It cost panic in an extremely influential section of Indian Muslims to these Muslims the evaluation of the Ottoman Empire. They felt like almost Earth had opened up under them and threatening to swallow them. So this is where it becomes important for all of us to have what I call a sense of history and there’s no greater error than looking at history in isolation looking at it historical events in a fragmented piecemeal fashion. Our sense of History must be integrated and unbroken in order for us to make sense of both the past and the present and hopefully draw some lesson for the future. So coming back to the present context this sense of History also reveals an important truth. The truth is the significance of the Ottoman caliphate for the Indian Muslims of those days. So we need to ask this question obvious question. Why was the caliphate so important to Indian Muslims, even when the Arab world had rejected the caliphate so thoroughly. Why was it so important for Indian Muslims? So the answer to this question dates back all the way to Muhammad Bin Qasim the first alien Muslim Invader to conquer Sinld and then all of us know all the successive waves of alien Muslim Invaders who established Muslim empires in different parts of India of different sizes all the way up to the Mughals all the way up to Aurangzeb and of course Tipu Sultan. So without exception all Muslims Sultan swore loyalty to the caliph. Remember that the caliph had sponsored the early Invaders funded their armies. They said we are going to conquer Hindustan and put the sword of Islam here. So all of these Sultan’s they swore loyalty to the Khalifa for at least six centuries. They sent him annual tributes in the form of money gold jewelry horses and even women and slaves because that middle east region had a thriving slave market. So and some of the Sultan’s also minted coins in India bearing the name of the Khalifa. The caliph also played an extremely Central role in the Muslim ummah, which means the global Muslim Brotherhood because he was not a new political leader. The Khalifa as also seen as the religious protector and enforcer of Islam in the world, wherever Muslims showed there in the world. This was the centrality and the role of enjoyed by the Khalifa. So to put in different fashion the term Khalifa or Calif also means that he’s a Khalifa The Protector of Islam and not just a Khalifa of the Ottoman Turks. So his reach was Global his authority was kind of universal if you want to take their version of it, but with a comprehensive disintegration of the Mughal faster Aurangzeb died, the Muslim leadership in India noticed with great sadness that their magnificent project of Islamicing all of Hindustan was systematically coming apart. Even to this day and I don’t i’m not making this up even to this day in both Pakistan and India the lament among significant section of Muslim leadership is the death of Aurangzeb. In fact, one of the tactics that the British had used to ensure the Loyalty of Muslims towards them was to convince the Muslims that they the Muslims were the real rulers of Hindustan and that we the British are your protectors. Without us your Islam will go, you are the real ruler of Hindustan and if we move out of the scene the barbaric hindus will throw you out. This was one of the tactic, British you to keep their loyalty and so when the Armistice of mudros ended the ottoman caliphate it also made the Indian Muslims extremely nervous and very very angry. So what did they do?
They decided to do something about it and what was that something? It begins roughly in 1919 when a man named Muhammad Ali Johar led a delegation of Indian Muslims to London. He petitioned and.., no he didn’t petition, he demanded the British government to restore the caliphate and obviously it was a colonial British government. They laughed at him and dropped his demand in the dustbin. So, obviously Muhammad Ali johar was very very angry at this kind of rejection and from this rejection, something called a khilafat committee was born. The demand of the khilafat committee was straight forward, a complete boycott and protests against the British government in India until the caliphate was restored. So it is clear that, from the very beginning there was nothing nationalistic, there was nothing patriotic, or there was nothing Indian about the Khilafat committee. It’s ultimate goal was to serve up an Islamic cause and all means, all methods, all tactics are completely valid. Nothing was out of bounds. So this is a brief story of the origin of what later became the khilafat movement.