Khilafat Committee survives to promote education and national unity

By Abdul Hameed,,

The Caliphate or Khilafat is long gone, but the All India Khilafat Committee formed in India to protest its abolition continues to exist. In its heydays it organized several meetings against the British government and birthed the Indian independence movement. These days Khilafat Committee’s main public programme is organization of a procession on Prophet Mohammed’s birth day.

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It also runs a College of Education, mainly for Muslim girls who wish to avoid the hassle of sexual harassment at call centers and other job situations and prefer to be teachers in primary or secondary schools.

History of All India Khilafat Committee

All India Khilafat Committee (AIKC) which once provided the Indian Muslims with a platform to support the Ottoman Caliphate going against the imperialist British rule, has now reduced its activities to educating local youth and unite them into one nation. This is sharp come-down from its ambitious aim in the past to mobilize the Muslims globally through a pan-Islamic vision of restoring and retaining the Ottoman Caliphate.

Launched in 1919 by Ali brothers –Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Shaukat Ali- with the active support of Mahatma Gandhi AIKC represented the rebellious voice of Indian Muslims against the British rule and was a protest against the use of underhand and overhand means to overthrow the Turkey Ottoman Sultanate. The Khilafat movement soon turned into a united movement, engaging both Muslims and Hindus for freedom from British rule.

M A Aziz, MD of the Committee, recalls, ‘If the committee got support of Ali brothers, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew and Maulana Azad then Gandhiji, Pundit Nehru, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and Lala Lajpat Rai and Gopal Krishna Gokhale too propped up its basic demands.’ All of them have made their contribution in the freedom struggle.

All India Khilafat Committee, after independence in 1947 was declared a public trust by the City Civil Court at Mumbai in Suit No. 1965 of 1958 and a Board of Trustees was appointed to manage its affairs. The present chairman is Mrs. Fatima Zakaria the widow of late Dr. Rafiq Zakaria who had held the post for the last three decades.

Khilafat House

Freedom related activities often found a cozy home in AIKC’s office in Khilafat House in Byculla, Mumbai. The House has the honor of being the starting point of the countrywide non-cooperation movement by Gandhiji in 1920. The building was renovated in 1981 without altering its façade and shape. Speaking on the renovation ceremony of the historical Khilafat House on 19th April 1981 the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi had remarked, ‘What an excellent idea to renovate and reactivate the old ‘Khilafat House’. It is hallowed with the remembrance of stalwarts of our freedom struggle and has been an active centre of Hindu-Muslim unity.’

Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi Procession

The yearly procession in the form of a line of trucks originates from the Khilafat House and returns back after a round of the city roads and is taken out on Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi. It has been touted as an example of Hindu-Muslim amity just as iftar parties have become a part of politics through the gastronomic route.

M A Aziz told that the juloos from Khilafat House traces its history back to Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar. ‘To present the practical instance of Muhammad (saws)’s teaching regarding brotherhood, love for the country and unity Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar initiated in 1922 Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi juloos on Rabi-ul-Awwal 12, the birthday of the Prophet (saws). Since then AIKC has been taking out juloos on the occasion (regularly).’

From left Maulana Tanweer Hashmi, M A Aziz, Milind Deora

Aziz adds, ‘Before demand by Muslims in 1980 that procession be led by an aalim (Muslim religious scholar) the juloos would emerge under the leadership of a national and secular leader as Pundit Nehru and Gyani Zail Singh etc. who had contributed to (the growth) of the Muslim community. Now the leader is an aalim while any national leader or newly elected CM participates in the juloos as chief guest.’

The juloos forms a living example of Hindu-Muslim unity and more importantly Muslim internal unity, says Aziz. ‘In the juloos we invite representatives from other religions and from different Islamic denominations too. The response so far has been positive.’

Promotion of Education

A B. Ed and a D. Ed college apart from computer department flourishing in the premises of Khilafat House testify to the fact that All India Khilafat Committee has directed its activities mainly to the promotion of education.

‘After the possibilities of Khilafat restoration got lost AIKC might venture in the fields other than education but it could not close its eyes from the undeniable importance of education especially for girls. Education is the strongest means to the mainstream and to remain competitive in every field,’ says Aziz.

The main objective of Urdu medium D. Ed and English medium B. Ed College is to provide trained teachers for both primary Urdu schools and secondary government schools. ‘They were established in 1992 and 1989 respectively,’ told Aziz adding ‘the duo and also the computer department, introduced in 1992, have 100 students in each while the girls constituting 80% are in majority. All the students are Muslims.’

This laudable step taken by AIKC in the academic field is meant to give some concrete shape to Maulana Jauhar’s wish to promote girls education and the English language.

‘Many graduates of these colleges presently are trying to create Islamic atmosphere apart from teaching in the nearby St. Christ, St. Mary, St. Agnes and St. Joseph and St. Anthony secondary schools,’ informs Mr Aziz proudly.

All India Khilafat Committee has on the drawing board plans for the construction of a technical college for boys in the future.

[Edited by Prof. Ahmed Kamal Khusro, Copy Editor of the Eastern Crescent]