”The Ottoman Empire lay at our feet dismembered and impotent, its capital and Caliph at the mercy of our guns.” [Harold Nicolson]
The 28th Rajab 1439 marks the anniversary of the Caliphate’s (Ottoman Empire) formal abolition in Turkey in 1342H/1924 CE. The magnitude of this event and its effect on the problems facing the Muslim world today cannot be underestimated. After 97 years without a central Islamic authority to implement, protect and propagate Islam it’s important to reflect back on the result of the Caliphate’s destruction.
Harold Nicholson in his biography on Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary who oversaw the destruction of the Caliphate after signing the Lausanne treaty, summarises the situation of post-Caliphate Turkey.
“The actual results of Turkey’s adherence to the cause of the Central Powers can be summarised as follows.
- She was forced to abandon her claim to Egypt, Tripoli, Barca, the Dodecanese, the Aegean Islands, and Cyprus.
- She lost Syria, the Lebanon, Palestine and what is now known as Transjordania.
- She was deprived of the guardianship of the Holy Places and of the prestige she had derived therefrom throughout the Islamic world.
- The provinces of the Hedjaz and the Yemen were torn from her grasp.
- Mesopotamia, with its vast potential resources, declared itself independent.
- In 1912 the Ottoman Empire had, in theory at least, covered 1,500,000 square miles, and the Sultan could claim dominion over 36,000,000 people. As a result of the Balkan Wars and the European War the present Turkish State comprises only 445,609 square miles with a population of only 13,648,270.
- Turkey entered the war as the still powerful Ottoman Empire: she emerged from it as an Asiatic Republic, scarcely larger than the state of Hyderabad. Such is the measure of her successful defiance of the Allied Powers.”
Lord Curzon, mentioned something similar in the House of Lords on 28 February 1924 at the Second Reading of the Treaty of Peace (Turkey) Bill:
“But also as the result of the Treaty we knocked off from the Turkish State, and reconstructed, the areas in Asia Minor, in Syria, in Palestine and in Mesopotamia, for the most part inhabited by Arabs, whom for centuries Turkey had shown her incapacity to govern, and who now, being relieved from their subjection to her, are endeavoring, in different degrees, to set up a national life of their own. That, of course, was the price that Turkey had to pay for the great mistake she made in entering the war against the Allies.”
Britain played a pivotal role in the destruction of the Caliphate in Turkey. Statements made by its foreign secretary Lord Curzon, clearly show his hatred of Turkey and the Caliphate.
On 19 May 1919, secret War Cabinet minutes recorded: “Lord Curzon said that he had no desire whatever to deal gently with the Turks. The Turks had voluntarily aided with Germany; they had treated our prisoners with unexampled barbarity; they had massacred hundreds of thousands of their own subjects. They therefore deserved any fate which was inflicted upon them.”
Nicholson quotes Curzon: For nearly five centuries he (Curzon) wrote, ‘the presence of the Turk in Europe has been a source of distraction, intrigue and corruption in European politics; of oppression and misrule to the subject nationalities; and an incentive to undue and overweening ambitions in the Moslem world. It has encouraged the Turk to regard himself as a Great Power, and has enabled him to impose upon others the same illusion. It has placed him in the position to play off one Power against another, and in their jealousies and his own machinations to find pretexts for his continued immunity.’
The abolition of the Caliphate and its re-establishment were prophesised by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, so no matter how much the western colonial powers plot and plan they cannot prevent its return.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
تَكُونُ النُّبُوَّةُ فِيكُمْ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ خِلَافَةٌ عَلَى مِنْهَاجِ النُّبُوَّةِ فَتَكُونُ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ مُلْكًا عَاضًّا فَيَكُونُ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَكُونَ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ مُلْكًا جَبْرِيَّةً فَتَكُونُ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تَكُونَ ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُهَا إِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَرْفَعَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ خِلَافَةً عَلَى مِنْهَاجِ النُّبُوَّةِ ثُمَّ سَكَتَ
“There will be Prophethood for as long as Allah wills it to be, then He will remove it when He wills, then there will be Caliphate on the Prophetic method and it will be for as long as Allah wills, then He will remove it when He wills, then there will be biting Kingship for as long as Allah Wills, then He will remove it when He wills, then there will be oppressive kingship for as long as Allah wills, then he will remove it when He wills, and then there will be Caliphate upon the Prophetic method” and then he remained silent. (Ahmed)
 Harold Nicolson, ‘Curzon The Last Phase A Study In Post War Diplomacy 1919-1925,’ p.3
 Ibid, p.64
 Ibid, p.76