By Munawar Ahmad Anees
[Vol. III, Feb. 1986]
Munawar Ahmad Anees examines the impact of the fall of the Ottoman Khalifah on the Indian Muslims and argues that we should use this experience to rethink the political basis of the Khilafat.
While Kemal Ataturk and his associates were busy abolishing the Ottoman Khilafah, another drama intrinsically linked with their actions, was being played in India which during the late Ottoman period, like the Ottoman Empire itself, was going through a traumatic period. India had, for almost 800 years, been a Muslim country, but it was never part of the Ottoman Empire. However, it then became a colony of an alien empire -a status which the vast majority of Muslims were fighting to change. The institution of the Khilafah played a special inspirational, emotional and practical role for the Indian Muslims. How the Indian Muslims reacted to the demise of the Khilafah gives us a special insight into the theory and practice of the institution itself and how it could be perceived in the future.
Perhaps the most dominant theme of this period in Indian Muslim history was treachery. Nawab Salar Jung, the late Prime Minister of Hyderabad Daccan, personified this theme when, in December 1887, he stated:
‘England has in India some fifty millions of moslem subjects, including in their mass the most war-like of the native races… and England is not likely to forget that it was these very races who, in 1857, at the bidding of their caliph, the Sultan Abdul Medjid, gave their united support to the British connection at that supreme moment when their defection might have cost the life of every white man and woman in India. My late father frequently assured me that the whole influence of the caliphate was used most unremittingly from Constantinople to check the spread of mutiny, to rally round the English standards the Mussulman races of India – and that in this way the debt that Turkey owed to Great Britain for British support in the Crimea was paid in full. And the time may come again when the devotion of the mussulmans to their caliph and the shrine of St. Sophie may be not less necessary to great Britain than in 1857.’
(Rafiuddin Ahmad, A Muslim view of Abdul Hamid and the Powers, Nineteenth Century, Vol. 38, p.162, July 1895).
Nearly thirty six years after Salar Jung’s statement on the loyalty of Muslims of the British crown, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, the second ‘Khilafah’ of the heretical Ahmadiyya Jama’at of Qadian, declared this Muslim loyalty to be due to their religious obligation. In a paper written for the All-India Muslim Conference held at Lucknow on September 21, 1919 to consider the question of the future of Turkey (a condensed version of the first part of which appeared under the title The Future of Turkey in Muslim World (Hartford, Connecticut; Vol. 10, issue 3, pp. 274-281, 1920), he expressed the view that:
‘So long as Turkey was at war with Great Britain, a considerable number of Indian Mussulmans were fighting against her, and it is likely that thousands of Turks have lost their lives at the hands of these Mussulmans. But such action on the part of the Mussulmans was no proof of the fact that they felt no sympathy for the Turks. It was merely an illustration of the law that a lower principle has always to be subordinated to a higher one. Loyalty to the British government was to the Mussulmans a religions duty, since they had received many favours from the said Government.’
It is obvious that Nawab Salar Jung and Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad were not alone in their adamant support for the British rule over Muslim India, as the Nawwab noted, the Ottoman Khilafah in Istanbul did not view the 1857 freedom struggle as a Muslim cause and exploited his Titular officer for his own political ends by issuing a Fatwa (religious declaration) that called upon Indian Muslims not to rise against the British. This being true, one may aptly ask on what grounds, during their declaration of war against Britain and France on November 11, 1914, the Ottoman rulers issued a proclamation of Jihad on November 25, 1914 and called upon Muslims under Ottoman dominion in particular, and the rest of the Muslims in general, to join the Ottoman war?
The proclamation read:
‘The Muslims in general who are under the oppressive grasp of the aforesaid tyrannical governments in such places as the Crimea, Kazan, Turkestan, Bukhara, Khiva, and India, and those dwelling in China, Afghanistan, Africa and other regions of the earth, are hastening to join in this Great Jihad to the best of their abili ty, with life and property, alongside the Ottomans, in conformity with the relevant holy Fatwas.’ (signed by Shaykh Al-Islam Khayri Effendi. Translation of a text discovered by Professor Abul Latif Tibawi, PRO Kew see Islamic Quarterly, Vol. 19, Issue 3-4 pp. 157-163, 1975).
While the various Indian Muslim groups were denying allegiance to the Ottoman Khilafah, what was happening elsewhere in the Muslim world? The Ottoman Empire itself was falling apart rapidly. While there were numerous outside forces -one must not overlook the fact that the Ottomans provided the only real challenge and threat to Christendom for over 600 years – it was rotten from inside too. Administrative corruption, intrigues, conspiracies, and anachronism of the ruling elites were but some of the more significant factors. Of course, the rise of Arab nationalism and the ritual scapegoat of seeing an invisible foreign hand in all ills at home could be easily taken as the causative agents. However, there are other sides to this most complex period of recent Muslim history. Muslim intellectual impotence as reflected by the pre-eminence of Western science and technology, conflicting ideals of pan-Islamism and Muslim or Arab nationalism, the unique mobilization of Muslim masses in India under the banner of the Khilafat Movement, their migration (hijra) to Afghanistan, the Muslim failures at international diplomacy, and the role of non-Muslim minorities (millets) under Ottoman rule are some of the other factors that promoted the downfall of the Ottoman Khilafah.
It should be mentioned at the outset that the prolonged threat posed to the Western countries by Ottoman rule has invariably created a very strong bias against things Turkish. Historiography of the Ottoman period as recorded in Western annals, therefore, has not remained immune from these prejudices. In this context, the observation of Andre Raymond is quite suggestive for Western and Arab historians alike:
‘. . . Arab historians feel reluctant to study a phase of their past which they tend, by analogy with a more recent period of their history, to consider as colonial. The general obscurity which still shadows the Ottoman era must account for the rest of its discredit in the eyes of modern historians. It is, however, a somewhat incomprehensible obscurity, as sources exist for that period, more numerous, more abundant, and more varied than for any other period of Muslim history, especially in the field of archival documentation. This biased view of the Ottoman era has facilitated the falsifying of modern history of the Arab countries for the purpose of justifying European colonization.’
(International Journal of Turkish Studies, p. 84, 1981).
It is plausible to assume that the ideological fervour that accompanied the expression of Arab nationalism during the Ottoman period was, in part, inspired by the vocal and agitated non- Muslim minorities living under Turkish rule. These minority groups, known as millets (from Arabic millah – a rite, nation or community), were quite numerous and spread far and wide throughout the empire. Nasim Sousa records that by 1914, there were at least thirteen millet groups each with a distinct social, ethnic, and religious background: Armenian Catholics, Armenian Georgians, Bulgarian Catholics, Catholics, Chaldean Catholics, Greeks, Jews (of the two rites), Maronites, Melkits, Nestorians, Protestants, Syrian Catholics and Syrian Jacobites. (see: The Capitulatory Regime of Turkey – its history, origin and nature, Baltimore, P. 89, 1933).
For the express benefit of millet groups, Ottoman rulers are known to have introduced a number of reforms going back to the first quarter of the nineteenth century. These and subsequent reforms were, by and large, unsuccessful. Ottoman rulers, following the dictates of their religion, did not dare to mutilate the ethnic and religious configurations of millet groups and extended unilateral concessions to these minorities but these non-Muslim groups were not forthcoming in accepting these reforms. The ecclesiastical leadership, especially, opposed these measures for they perceived them as an attempt towards assimilation and subsequent loss of their independence. On the other hand, the Ottoman xenophobic propaganda does find its legitimacy in the fact that foreign powers manipulated these millets for their own ends. In fact, some of the reforms may be partially traced back to the period of foreign political pressures to which the Ottomans were subjected. While foreign pressure prompted the Ottomans to introduce reforms, the same `visible’ hand directed the millets to reject those reforms.
Thus there was a gradual unfolding of drama behind the scenes of the rise of Arab nationalism, which was an ominous sign for the Ottoman rulers. Even fully discounting the aftermath of Western warfare with Turkey, the role of the so-called millet groups as disruptive forces in the empire cannot be neglected. For example, Abdul Latif Tibawi has brought to light some of the underground literature produced under Christian influence during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Reference is made here to the three widely circulated Arabic handbills of 1880 which stress Arab ethnic origin and a demand for autonomy (Tibawi: A Modern History of Syria, London. Macmillan pp. 165-166, 1969). Recently, Jacob M. Landau has provided evidence for the existence of `an Arab anti-Turk handbill’ 1881, (see: Turcica – Revue D’E tudes Turques, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp. 215-227, 1977). It would be naive to argue that a handful of handbills could topple the most expansive and powerful Muslim empire in history. But these do seem to indicate that Ottoman history (at least in English works) is too inconclusive, most of it is not easily accessible, and suffers from both Western and Arab historic bias. Therefore, the ephemeral, like these handbills, have a significance of their own in terms of providing certain important clues for further historical research.
It would be a fallacy to assume that Arab nationalism was a monolithic monster running after Arab ethnic supremacy over the Turks and other Muslims. Even during those turbulent times when the forces of nationalism and the evil of colonialism had gripped the entire Muslim and Arab world, sanity prevailed in certain quarters. For example, the Amir of Makkah, Husayn Ibn Ali, up until 1916, was not an advocate of Arab nationalism, (see: C.W. Duron, Ideological Influences in the Arab Revolt, in The World of Islam – studies in honour of Philip K. Hitti, edited by James Kritzeck and R. Bayly Winder, London, Macmillan, pp. 233-248, 1959).
Of Husayn and his son Abdullah’s attitude toward the Ottoman Khilafah, C.F. Dawn observes that:
‘The Ottoman government applied the title caliphate to itself and sought popular support among the Muslims of the world. Under the modern theory of the caliphate, the Ottoman government had a perfectly valid claim to the title as long as it enforced the Shari’ah. Abdullah and Husayn obviously regarded the Ottoman government’s claim to the title as genuine, and just as obviously believed that most Muslims shared their opinion’.
(Dawn, Op. Cit., p. 246).
It was only after Husayn failed in his efforts to extract some concessions for his political interests within the framework of the Ottoman empire that he joined the Arab nationalistic extremes. Abdullah Ibn Husayn, on the other hand, began to tout to the theory of Arab pre-eminence.
This brings us to an important juncture in the history of the spread of pan-Islamism during the late phases of the Ottoman era. Diametrically opposed to Arab nationalism, as espoused on the basis of purely territorial or ethnic origin, was the dialectic of pan-Islamism that found varied expressions with its adherents across the Muslim world. Aziz Ahmad perhaps provides us with the best historical account of that period (see: Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan 1857-1964, London, Oxford University Press, Chapter vi pp. 123-140, 1967). He argues that it was only after the enforced separation of the Crimea from the Ottoman Empire and the signing of the treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarja in 1774, that the universal claim to Khilafah was advocated by Turks and was accepted by the Russians. It was by virtue of the universality of their claim, that the British extracted a Fatwa from the Ottoman against the 1857 freedom struggle of Indian Muslims. On the other hand, prior to this Ottoman proclamation, one of the prominent Indian Muslims, Shah Muhammad Ishaq, grandson of Shah Wali Allah, migrated to the Hijaz in 1841 and offered his support for Ottoman policies. Later, Indian groups such as Nadwat Al’ Ulama and Deoband schools joined in this pro-Ottoman policy by giving credence to the universality of the Turkish Khilafah.
By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Jamal Ad-din Al- Afghani (b. 1839) had emerged as the spearhead of the pan-Islamic movement and he left his mark on Muslim lands such as India, Muslim Russia, Egypt and the Ottoman empire. His collaboration with Shaykh Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905) resulted in the publication of the famous anti-imperialist journal ‘Urwat Al-Wuthqa. The ideas of Muhammad Abduh were later disseminated by his pupil Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935). Abdallah Ibn Husayn is known to have maintained close relations with Muhammad Rashid before 1914. C.E. Dawn maintains that Abdallah borrowed his theory of Arabism from Muhammad Rashid. Both Abduh and Rashid developed the theory of Arabism on the basis of the pre-eminence of Arabs: the Qur’an was an Arabic book, the blessed Prophet was an Arab, and, therefore, Arab Muslims are best suited to lead a universal Islamic revival. For this to happen, Arab revival was seen by both of them as a pre-requisite. However, unlike Abd Ar-Rahman Al-Kawakibi, neither Abduh nor Rashid made Islam subordinate to Arabism.
Al-Afghani, in the beginning, detested the so-called Machiavellian propaganda of Sultan Abd Al-Hamid II and continued to argue for his strategy of Pan-Islamism: “Re-thinking the whole system of Islam without breaking with the past” as Muhammad Iqbal puts it. However, during the late years of his life, Al-Afghani accepted an invitation from Sultan Abd Al-Hamid II to settle in Istanbul and work for him. There he remained an influential figure for a short time. Then, like so many other idealists, he fell into disgrace through court intrigues, and died in 1897.
On the Indian Muslim intellectual scene, we have already mentioned that people like Nawab Salar Jung and Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, under different pretexts, advocated a strong loyal ty to the British crown. Apart from these the role of Seyyed Ahmad Khan (d. 1898) and that of his associate Shibli Nu’mani, are also important. From the period of the Crimean War to 1878, Britain encouraged a pro-Turkish policy for Muslim India. Seyyed Ahmad Khan followed the dictum as long as it was perpetuated by the British. In one of his famous works, Tahzib Al-Akhlaq, he is on record as praising the reforms in the Ottoman Dominions. However, with British policy turning anti-Turkish, Seyyed Ahmad Khan went with the wind and quickly announced his loyalty as a British subject. He rejected even the spiritual jurisdiction of the Ottoman Khilafah. Mawlana Shibli Nu’mani held the view that the real Khilafah had ended with the first four Khulafa Ar- Rashidun and protested the ban imposed by Sultan Abd Al-Hamid II against discussions on this vital subject.
It may be argued that Seyyed Ahmad Khan’s policy of absolute loyalty was a protectionist measure to ensure the survival of his educational reforms, or else that he sought no further violent confrontation with the West. On the other hand, Al-Afghani was diametrically opposed to creating regional defences for Islam. In his universal outlook for Muslim revival, he strongly criticised the ideas of Seyyed Ahmad Khan. While Al-Afghani perceived the protection of the Muslim Ummah on a Pan-Islamic scale and argued for taking up the challenge of the Western onslaught, Seyyed Ahmad Khan’s vision of Muslim revival was territorially limited to India, suffered from the presence of a docile polity that was utterly submissive to British imperialist rule, and had no provision for a universal Khilafah whether as a temporal or spiritual symbol.
The legacy of Al-Afghani may be said to have been continued in the ideas of Maulana Abu Al-Kalam Azad (1888-1958). Initially, he was influenced by the ideology propagated by Aligarh Muslim University, founded by Seyyed Ahmad Khan. However, Seyyed Ahmad Khan’s teachings in Muslim political inactivity and continued subservience to British rule was rejected by Mawlana Azad. In order to awaken the Indian Muslims to their vital political obligations, he started publishing a weekly, Al-Hilal (The Crescent), in 1912. From that time on, Mawlana Azad professed a Pan-Islamic ideology and following the First World War conflict between Turkey and Britain, he supported the Ottoman Khilafah. During the period 1912-1920, he had a firm belief in the universal concept of Khilafah, with its attendant temporal and spiritual symbolism. He believed that Sultan Selim, who was the conqueror of Egypt and Syria in 1517, received an oath of allegiance from the last Abbasid Khilafah, Al-Mutawakkil. (As a correction to this widely-held idea of the formal transfer of the authority of Khilafah from Al-Mutawakkil to the Turkish Sultan Selim, we may cite at this point the observations of Halil Inalcik, ‘Islam in the Ottoman Empire’, Cultura Turcica’ (Ankara), Vol.5-7, pp 19-29, 1968-1970. Inalcik notes that according to one tradition, follow ing a ceremony at Aya Sofya Mosque in Istanbul, the formal transfer of authority between Sultan Selim and Khilafah Al-Mutawakkil took place. However, he argues that there is no contemporary record of such an event and believes that this tradition originated much later in the 18th century in order to support certain political objectives).
However, by the end of the year 1920, Pan-Islamism had lost much of its appeal for Maulana Azad. It should be recalled that March 19, 1920 was a national mourning day for Muslims in India because the delegation of the Khilafat Committee was clearly notified by the British authorities that Turkey would be allowed to retain only those areas that were ethnically Turkish and she would lose all other lands. For the members of the Khilafat Movement, this was the end of the traditional Ottoman Khilafah.
It is plausible to argue that in the aftermath of the First World War and the loss of the Ottoman Khilafah, with a concomitant rise of Arab and Turkish nationalism, Maulana Azad saw little chance of success in clinging to the ideals of Pan-Islamism. Certain other factors might have contributed towards this end. For instance, M.K. Gandhi, one-time supporter of the Indian Khilafat movement, had started objecting to the extra-territorial allegiance of Indian Muslims. This prompted Maulana Azad to go for greater Muslim-Hindu cooperation in getting the Birtish out of India. His transition from Pan-Islamism to Indian nationalism proved to be so strong that in 1940 when the majority of Muslims gave their consent for an independent Pakistan, he, in his presidential address before the Ramgarh session of the Indian National Congress, spoke of his Indian pride in these words:
‘I am part of the indivisible unity that is Indian nationality.. I am indispensable to this noble edifice and without me this splendid structure of India is incomplete. I am an essential element which has gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim.’
(see: Khutbat-I Abu Al-Kalam Azad, Lahore, Al-Manara Academy, p 317, N.D.) Thus ended the career of another Pan-Islamist, who became a victim of parochial nationalism.
At the heel of Pan-Islamism – that had failed to achieve tangible results – emerged the unique mobilization of Muslims known as ‘The Khilafat Movement’. While Arab nationalism was shaped under the influence of foreign powers and non-Muslim minorities living in the Ottoman Empire, and due to a lack of unanimity on the concept of universal Khilafah, this movement by Indian Muslims owned its raison d’etre to complete rejection of nationalism, upholding the cause of universal Khilafah and denunciation of foreign political control. In many respects, it was identical to the ideals of Pan-Islamism except that it vigorously supported the continuation of Turkish Khilafah. Opinions differ on the motives underlying the inception of the Khilafat movement. For instance, the movement has been seen as a mere psychological comfort in the name of a bygone glory. It has been dubbed even as a selfish move by Indian Muslims in the sense that by retaining the Turkish Khilafah, they hoped to impress upon Western powers that Muslim political strength has not faded. This was supposedly their way out of the impending persecution by Hindu majority in an independent India or continued repression by the British imperialists.
None of the above propositions seem to be true in their entirety. First, the raw material for the Khilafat Movement may have been supplied by the early migration of the grandson of Shah Wali Allah and the later institutional support of the Ottoman Khilafah by Deoband and Nadwat Al-Ulama schools. The movement certainly imbibed some of the ideals of Pan-Islamism, as well. Second, the imminent emergence of an independent homeland for Muslims – Pakistan – must have given a comfortable cushion to those who justifiably feared persecution in a Hindu-dominated India. It therefore appears that the real motives of the Khilafat movement must lie in the religious piety of its members who had faith in universal Khilafah as symbolized by the Turkish Sultan. Undoubtedly, the maintenance of the military and political strength of the Ummah was an implied imperative of the movement.
It is appropriate to recall at this point that the British were successful in extracting yet another Fatwa, this time from the Ulama of Hijaz by the courtesy of Husayn who was persuaded to launch an anti-Turk revolt. In this new Fatwa, Turks were denied their right to Khilafah, were accused of apostasy for their deposition of Sultan Abd Al-Hamid II and thus the claim of an Arab, of the Quraysh tribe, to universal Khilafah was legitimized. Mahmud Al-Hasan, one of the early representatives of the Deoband School, had migrated to Hijaz and established contacts with the Turkish representatives. When asked to sign the Fatwa against the Turks, he refused and protested that the charge of apostasy against the entire Turkish nation was an un-Islamic act. He was apprehended by Husayn’s agents and handed over to the British, who imprisoned him in Malta during the period 1917-1920. It was the brothers, Muhammad and Shukat – who formally the movement. Muhammad Ali was imprisoned by the British for nearly five years (1914-1919) as a punishment for writing a pro-Turkish article. When released from prison, he was given a hero’s welcome by Indian Muslims and thus started the most eventful phase of the movement. For the next three years, Muslims and Hindus alike joined the cause of Khilafat and the Indian National Congress became a unified body for the people of India. However, this Muslim-Hindu unity was short-lived, as we have already pointed out. Apart from a divergent pursuit of political ends, Hindu leaders objected to the so-called extra-territorial loyalty of Indian Muslims and brought their cooperation with the movement to an end.
Maulana Azad, in spite of his gradual replacement of Pan-Islamic sentiments by Indian nationalist feelings, contributed towards the emergence of the movement. He recognized the legality of Khilafah and the need for its universal character. His Khalifat- based Pan-Islamic vision included five essentials: allegiance of the Ummah to a single authority, obedience, rallying under the banner of single authority, Jihad, and emigration from a Dar Al- Harb (or land dominated by non-Muslims). However, in view of the different Muslim states in the world, he suggested that there be a regional leader or Imam in each individual country who would owe his loyalty to the single universal Khilafah. In the case of India, he had proposed that Mahmud Al-Hasan of the Deoband School be the Imam. These five features which shaped the universal Khilafah were indeed in full conformity with the Pan-Islamic ideals, but Mawlana Azad could not continue to subscribe to either of these two ideological currents.
The question of how far the Khilafat movement was able to win adherents at home and abroad has been studied in depth by M. Naeem Qureshi of Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad (See: The Khilafat Movement in India, 1919-1924, unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of London, 1973). He has argued that the Ulama, who had failed in 1917 to enforce Shari’ah in the administrative policies of the Indian government, realized that in order to salvage their own position, they must partake in community politics. Thus, their political ambitions gave religious colouring to a henceforth political issue and the “resultant concord between the Ulama and the politicians was so formidable that it turned the Khilafat into one of the most memorable movements of modern India”, (Qureshi, Journal of Asian History, Volume 12, Issue 2, p 156, 1978).
Inspite of this grand collaboration between the Central Khilafat Committee and Jami’at Al-`Ulama, the movement failed to give a definite sense of action to the Muslim masses. The Khilafat movement received a mixed response from other segments of the society. Because of concurrent political mass mobilization for the creation of Pakistan, the leaders of the Pakistan Movement gave cautions support to the movement. Shi’a scholars questioned the very claim of the Turkish Sultan to Khilafah and were not willing to join the work of the Khilafat Committee on any consistent basis. By 1920, internal strife had developed to such an extent that the movement was almost suffocated. Yet another blow to the movement came from the utter failure of mass migration in the year 1920. The debate over whether India, after Muslims had lost political control and were subjected by British imperialism, was Dar Al-Harb or still retained its status as Dar Al-Islam (House of Islam) may have been initiated as early as the Fatwa of Shah Abd Al-Aziz (d. 1824) that declared India as Dar Al-Harb. The issue re-surfaced with intensity during the Khilafat period and the Ali brothers and Maulana Azad, favoured migration. On the other hand, Amir Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan (d. 1960) provided a false hope to the intending migrants (muhajirun) that they would be welcomed in his country. He even went to the extreme of promising his life in defence of the common faith of Muslims.
Qureshi provides a chilling account of the emigration of Muslim masses that, in the end, brought untold sufferings to those who left their homes and great disrepute for those who incited them on false pretexts. A conservative estimate would put the total number of affected people to be over 60,000 – of which nearly seventy per cent returned to India, with the rest getting asylum or anonymity in Turkey, Russia or Afghanistan (see: `The ‘Ulama of British India and the Hijarat of 1920‘, Modern Asian Studies, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 41-59, 1979). If nothing else, Hijra was a definite manifestation of the great frustration that Muslims were experiencing by continued non-Muslim rule over their country. Qureshi believes that the Hijra, “In the context of classical Islamic juristic interpretations and Indian political develop ments, was neither illogical nor an isolated event, but it was ill-conceived, miscalculated and ill-organized… Thue advocates of the Hijarat were, in fact, tricked into involvement by the machinations of the Afghan diplomacy”.
To the complete dismay of the Khilafat movement, Kemalist forces acted on March 3, 1924 to finally abolish the Khilafah. Abd Al- Majid, who was elected as Khilafah on November 13, 1922 by the Turkish Grand National Assembly was forced into exile and with that one of the greatest eras of Khilafat, after the period of Al-Khulafa Ar-Rashidun, came to an end. Aziz Ahmad (Op. Cit., p138) is of the opinion that a letter from the Agha Khan and Amir Ali (who were not known to be anti-Khilafat movement but were against any extremism) sent to the Prime Minister of Turkey supporting the Muslim concern over the Khilafah, was possibly a precipitating cause for the final abolition. Toynbee believed that the Turkish government got suspicious and thought that the letter was written at the (usual) instigation of the British government.
Was the abolition of the Ottoman Khilafah the final culmination for this historic Muslim Institution? Are there any lessons of significance that may be learnt about Muslim political philosophy through these episodes? Was failure upon failure – as evident through Pan-Islamism, the Khilafat Movement and the final Turkish abolition – indicative of our political nativity? Why is it the Muslim fate to ceaselessly breed entities who are so much prone to foreign instigations whether for monetary or other base political rewards? The concept of Khilafat has in recent times become something of a romantic notion amongst Muslims who regard the institution as preferable to those alternative systems which political theorists have to offer. However, it has to be pointed out that the very reason why the all-pervasive institution of Khilafah petered out during the twentieth century was because of the failure of the Ottoman Khilafah to overcome the political, scientific and industrial might of the west. Thoughts and actions today, which are based on emotions and romanticism, are unlikely to be the anchors on which to build the edifice of a functioning Khilafat. Indeed, our study has shown that because of responses based on emotionalism rather than realism, movements to restore or preserve the Khilafah came to nought. The Qur’an has made the terrestrial station of humankind a Khilafah. The human being acts as Allah’s Khilafah on earth. How could a Kemalist abolish it? How could a loyalist distort it? How dare a Millet disfigure it? The only question that this brief study of the Ottoman Khilafah, pan-Islamism and the Khilafat Movement has answered is that a collective failure in the evolution of political philosophy that is in concert with the contemporary and future needs of the ummah was the single most common denominator in these ideological undercurrents.