The Ali brothers, Shaukat Ali and Mohamed Ali Jauha, were leaders of the Khilafat movement, which rallied support among Indian Muslims for the sultan of the Ottoman empire, whom they recognised as the Caliph, the leader of the Islamic world. Initially, they rallied with Gandhi’s call for non-cooperation, which made Hindu-Muslim unity the cornerstone of the national movement. Though a votary of Gandhi’s doctrine of non-violence, Shaukat was said to have supplied revolvers to the revolutionary Sachindra Nath Sanyal. This was not uncommon—many associates of Gandhi helped the revolutionaries, who adopted violent methods. In 1924, Kemal Ataturk abolished the Caliphate, thereby ending the Khilafat movement.
It was during his tenure as Congress president (in 1923) that Mohamed Ali began drifting from the party. The scholar Mushirul Hassan attributes this to the “worsening Hindu-Muslim relations and the feeling in some Muslim circles that the Congress was aiding communal forces in order to establish a Hindu Raj”. After the riots in Kohat, Northwestern Frontier Province, the Ali brothers’ differences with Gandhi soured more. In response to Mohamed’s resolution on the riots, Gandhi wrote: “Your resolution reads as if Hindus deserve what they got…You have erred grievously…How I wish you had remained silent.”
In 1928, the Nehru report on constitutional reforms upset Mohamed more. A year on, the brothers asked Muslims to shun Congress meetings.