Why was the khilafat movement launched?

By Krishan Yadav|Updated : July 1st, 2022

The Khilafat movement was launched by Muslims of British India led by Mohammad Ali and Shaukat Ali. The Khilafat movement protested against the sanctions placed on the caliph and the Ottoman Empire after the First World War by the Treaty of Sevres.

Find out more about the Khilafat movement below.

Gandhi’s Role

Gandhiji saw the Khilafat Movement as an opportunity for uniting the Hindus and the Muslims. The movement was launched by the Khilafat committee to oppose the harsh treaty which was going to be imposed on the spiritual leader of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.

Khilafat movement’s impact

The final blow came with the victory of Mustafa Kemal Pasha's forces, who overthrew the Ottoman rule to establish a progressive, secular republic in independent Turkey. He abolished the role of caliph and sought no help from Indians. The Khilafat leadership fragmented on different political lines.

Leaders of movement

A campaign in defense of the caliphate 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 non-cooperation movement for Indian freedom, promising nonviolence in return for his support of the Khilafat movement.


The Khilafat movement (1919-1924) was an agitation by Indian Muslims allied with Indian nationalism in the years following World War I. Its purpose was to pressure the British government to preserve the authority of the Ottoman Sultan as Caliph of Islam following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the war. Integral to this was the Indian Muslims’ desire to influence the treaty-making process following the war in such a way as to restore the 1914 boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, even though the Turks, allies of the Central Powers, had been defeated in the war. Indian supporters of the Khilafat cause sent a delegation to London in 1920 to plead their case, but the British government treated the delegates as quixotic pan-Islamist and did not change its policy toward Turkey.

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