The Indian Khilafat Delegation
at the Woking Mosque, 1920
Following the defeat of the Turkish Ottoman empire in the First
World War, the Khilafat Movement was launched in India in 1919 to
campaign for the continuity of the Turkish Khilafat and of its rule
over the Arabian peninsula containing the sacred places of Islam.
Its most famous leader and spokesman was Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar
In 1920 a Khilafat delegation led by Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar
came to England to present their case to the British government
and people. During the delegations stay, their visits to the
Woking Mosque were reported in The Islamic Review.
Meeting at Mosque
The report of the delegations visit to the Mosque in March
1920 appears under the heading Indian Delegation at the Mosque
The three members of the Indian Khilafat Delegation
paid a visit to the Woking Mosque on Sunday, 21st March, 1920.
They drew a large gathering of British and Indian Muslims and
non-Muslim English men and women. The Mosque being unable to hold
the congregation, the meeting was held on the lawn on the premises
of the Mosque. It was presided over by an English Muslim, Prof.
H. M. Leon, Ph.D., LL.D.
Mr. Muhammad Ali made a strong and convincing speech to the effect
that it was not fair to ignore the rights of his Majestys
Muslim subjects, whose number is greater than those of the Christians
in the Empire. They are all devoted to the Caliph of Constantinople,
and they all urge that the temporal power of the Caliph should
not be reduced, nor should the Turkish Empire be broken into bits.
Mr. Muhammad Ali was followed by Mr. Sayyid Husain, who made an
eloquent and polished speech. He said that liberty of conscience
should be granted to the people, and it should be maintained.
The conscience of Indian Muslims should be respected, and a line
should not be drawn across it by the English government.
The Islamic Review, April 1920, p. 139
There is a brief newsreel film clip of this meeting made by
the British Pathe
newsreel company available at this link on YouTube. The
title of the clip is The Problem of Turkey. The opening scene
shows Mohammad Ali Jauhar making a speech, and behind him seated
is Prof. H. M. Leon (considered to be the same person as Abdullah
Quilliam of Liverpool). Later on, when people are filing out
of the Mosque, Maulana Sadr-ud-Din, the Lahore Ahmadiyya missionary
and later the second Head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, can
be seen. See also this link on our Quilliam page.
Lloyd George and the Indian Khilafat Delegation
Over the page in the same issue of The Islamic Review, there
is an item about a meeting of the Delegation with the British Prime
Minister Lloyd George. It is reported:
The Indian Khilafat Delegation waited on the Premier
on the 19th March, 1920, to present the demands for the preservation
of the territorial integrity of the Khilafat made by the 72 millions
of His Majestys Indian Muslim subjects with the entire sympathy
and support of their more than 200 million Hindu compatriots.
The delegation consisted of Mr. Muhammad Ali, the editor of the
late Comrade, Maulvi Sulaiman Nadvi, Mr. Sayyid Husain.
The case of the delegation was very simple and clear. They approached
the question of the future of the Turkish Empire not as a Turkish
or an Arab question, but as a Muslim question, a question that
vitally affected the clearest and some of the most essential injunctions
of their faith. They took their stand on their religion and referred
to texts in the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet in support
of their threefold demand for the preservation of the temporal
power of the Khalifa, adequate for the defence of the Faith, which
involved the restoration of the status quo ante bellum,
the Khalifas wardenship of the Holy Places of Islam, and
the Exclusive Muslim Control of the Island of Arabia
as delimited by Muslim scholars. But the reply of the Premier
was simply disappointing. He made a passing reference to Mahomedans,
sincere, earnest, zealous Mussulmans, who take a very different
view of the temporal power (of the Khalifa) from the one which
is taken by Mr. Muhammad Ali.
The Premier took a tangential view of the question, and based
his entire case on the application of the principle of self-determination
which involves the dismemberment of Turkey. He repudiated the
idea of treating Turkey severely because she was Mahomedan. He
does not want any Mahomedan in India to imagine that we
entered into this war against Turkey as a crusade against Islam.
The Islamic Review, April 1920, p. 140141
Indian Khilafat Delegation attends Id-ul-Fitr at Woking
The Delegation attended Id-ul-Fitr at the Woking Mosque
on Thursday, 17th June 1920. A report of the function in The
Islamic Review states:
There were, roughly speaking, about three hundred
people of various nationalities, including the press representatives
and photographers, who came to take down the proceedings and photos
of the festival for the various periodicals. There were Indian
Muslims in turbans of different colours, there were Muslims from
Egypt and Arabia in red turbouches, there were Muslims from the
heart of Africa in long-flowing robes, and above all, there were
British Muslims in their English dresses.
The most important
guests were: the Hon. Sahibzada Aftab Ahmad Khan, member of India
Council; Mr. Mohammad Ali, Head of the Indian Khilafat Delegation,
with his colleagues; the Paramount Chief of Lagos (Africa), with
his devoted son who held the gorgeous umbrella over his fathers
head; Nawab Sarwar Ali Khan, Chief of Kurwai, with his nephew
Faiz Mohammad Khan, Chief of Maler Kotla; Dr. H. M. Leon, M.A.,
Ph.D.; Mr. Marmaduke Pickthall; Mr. Habib-Ullah Lovegrove; Mr.
Abdul Karim Lofts, Magnetic Healer; Dr. Charles Garnett, M.A.,
D.D.; and other British Muslim brothers and sisters.
The Islamic Review, JuneJuly 1920, p. 224225
After the prayers and the khutba, delivered by the Imam
Maulvi Mustapha Khan, and the conclusion of the religious ceremony,
there was a short speech by Mohammad Ali Jauhar:
Mr. Mohammad Ali of the Khilafat Delegation then
delivered a short informal address in keeping with the subject
of the sermon. The feelings of Muslim brotherhood, he said, were
deeply ingrained in our nature. A Muslim cannot but feel for and
sympathize with his Muslim brother whether they be coming from
the ends of the earth. A message of prayer and devotion was then
decided upon to be sent to the Sultan of Turkey as Khalifa of
Islam, and a telegram to be sent to the King-Emperor praying His
Majesty that in the revised treaty of Turkey no dismemberment
of Turkish Empire and Jazirat-ul-Arab may be allowed.
Ibid., p. 226
Indian Khilafat Delegation attends Id-ul-Adha at Woking
The report of the following Id-ul-Adha, celebrated
on Tuesday 24th August 1920, also mentions that:
The members of the Khilafat delegation from
India, the Chief of Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa, with his staff,
Prince Sarwar Ali Khan of Kurwai, with his cousin, were also among
The Islamic Review, AugustSeptember
1920, p. 286
The report quotes coverage from the general British
press on this festival. At the close of one such item, quoted from
the Liverpool Courier, it is stated:
Mohammad Ali, the head of the Khilafat Commission,
was also present, just back from his tour through France, Switzerland,
and Italy. He is now returning direct to India, as he was unable
to obtain a boat to enable him to accept the American invitation
in the time at his disposal.
Liverpool Courier, 25th Aug.
Ibid., p. 288
Historical footnote: The Ottoman Khilafat was
abolished in March 1924 by Kemal Ataturk through a declaration of
the Grand National Assembly, meeting at Ankara (known then as Angora).
Thus the Indian Khilafat Movement came to an unsuccessful end.