Bill Allison at Ideofact is discussing the idea that we are still finding the Great War (1914-18). He discusses the effect of the end of the Ottoman rule on radical Islamists. It is a typically great series of posts (see this post for the series). In his latest post on the subject, Bill refers to Ubaid at Ublog discussing Bernard Lewis’ new book The Crisis of Islam:
In the introduction, he [Lewis] talks about a videotape made public in October 2001, in which Osama bin Laden refers to some event that occured eighty years ago, and which was purportedly a cornerstone in Islamic political history. The event referred to was the breaking up of the Ottoman empire and according to Lewis, though Western observers had some time figuring out the allusion, it was something plainly evident to most Muslims. I cannot speak for Muslims of other nationalities, but I can speak as an Indian, and I’m very positive about this, Mr.Lewis would be hard pressed to find too many Indians of the Islamic faith who would know off hand of bin Laden’s reference. it is uncertain if this can be explained as evidence of ignorance or of an identity independent from that of the larger Islamic body, a more likely reason for me is my belief that radical Islam is intrinsically a geographical and political, rather than an Islamic problem per se. [edited for capitalization — Zack]
I think Ubaid is right here, and I don’t know many people who got that reference either before it was pointed out to them by the media. But we can’t say that the end of the Ottomans had no effect on Indian Muslims. Even though the Ottomans had never ruled India nor were accepted as Caliphs by the Muslim rulers of India, there was a movement against the stripping away of the Ottoman empire by the Birtish (who were the colonial power in India). This movement was started by some Muslim leaders and was joined by Gandhi in return for cooperation for his non-cooperation campaign against the British. In a way, it was more a campaign against the British than for the Ottomans. It was much weakened after Gandhi suspended his non-cooperation campaign due to some violence. Finally, Ataturk’s abolition of the caliphate ended the Khilafat movement.
Encyclopedia Britannica has this to say about the Khilafat movement:
force that arose in India in the early 20th century as a result of Muslim fears for the integrity of Islam. These fears were aroused by Italian (1911) and Balkan (1912—13) attacks on Turkey —- whose sultan, as caliph, was the religious head of the worldwide Muslim community —- and by Turkish defeats in World War I. They were intensified by the Treaty of Sèvres (August 1920), which not only detached all non-Turkish regions from the empire but also gave parts of the Turkish homeland to Greece and other non-Muslim powers.
A campaign in defense of the caliph was launched, led in India by the brothers Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali and by Abul Kalam Azad. The leaders joined forces with Mahatma Gandhi’s Noncooperation campaign for Indian freedom, promising nonviolence in return for his support of the Khilafat movement. In 1920 the movement was marred by the hijrat, or exodus, from India to Afghanistan of about 18,000 Muslim peasants, who felt that India was an apostate land. It was also tarnished by the Muslim Moplah rebellion in South India in 1921, the fanatic excesses of which deeply stirred Hindu India. Gandhi’s suspension of his movement and his arrest in March 1922 weakened the Khilafat movement still further. It was further undermined when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk drove the Greeks from western Asia Minor in 1922 and deposed the Turkish sultan in the same year; finally it collapsed when he abolished the caliphate altogether in 1924.
I believe the Khilafat movement did not have a big effect on the Indian Muslim population.