Molly Guinness

The eternal allure of the Caliphate

There’s nothing like a caliphate to rally disparate groups. The Sunni Islamic organisation ISIS has recruited fighters from all over the world with its dream of a single Muslim state, which now apparently exists in parts of Iraq and Syria. Across Europe, young men are packing their bags and heading to the east to join the jihadis. It’s an odd thing to want to do, but there’s something about a caliphate. In India in the 1920s, thousands of Muslims rallied behind the idea of a caliphate to support the Ottoman Caliphate. It was surprising because the Muslim population in India had never shown unity or indeed any fondness for Turkey. In fact many of them had fought against the Turks.

A large proportion are not racial Mohamedans, but the descendants of forcible converts from Hinduism, who have no inherited sympathies with the Ottoman Turks. Besides the great religious division of Sunnis and Shiahs, there are numerous sects, frequently hostile to each other. Sunnis are quite as ready to attack Shiahs as to oppose the British Government.…It might have been imagined that the Indian Musulmans, composed of such promiscuous elements, could never unite for any political purpose. Three conditions have, however, helped to bring about the present deplorable situation—the gross ignorance of the mass of Moslems on all that relates to the question of the Caliphate and British relations with Turkey ; (2) the fanaticism to which all Islam is prone ; and (3) the violent agitation, with Hindu instigation, which has latterly taken the fullest advantage of (1) and (2). The Khilafat movement, as it now stands, is recent, artificial and political, although drawing its strength from religious sentiment.

Hindu temples were sacked, houses were burned, and many Hindus were murdered. Mahatma

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