Kerala mourns passing away of Panakkad Thangal
Published: August 02, 2009, 17:32

Malappuram: Thousands of people from different walks of life thronged the Malappuram Town Hall on unday to pay their tributes to Panakkad Syed Mohammedali Shihab Thangal, the spiritual leader of a major section of Kerala Muslims and the unquestioned leader of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), who passed away Saturday night.

Thangal died following cardiac arrest at a private hospital near Malappuram. He was 73.

The funeral was held at Panakkad Juma Masjid on Sunday afternoon with state honours.

He is survived by his second wife Ayesha Beevi, two sons and three daughters. Thangal married Ayesha Beevi in 2006 after the passing away of his first wife Shareefa Fatima Beevi.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthananadan, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and other senior ministers paid tributes to the departed leader at the Town Hall. Among union ministers to pay tributes were Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, too, has condoled the passing away of Thangal.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of Panakkad Sayyid Muhammad Ali Shihab Thangal. He was one of Kerala’s most prominent leaders and led the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) for many decades with great distinction. He was a nationalist who cherished secular values; and a social worker and a powerful orator.”

Manmohan Singh described Thangal as a leader “who championed the propagation and importance of education. He had the strong following of his community but framed his politics in terms of larger national issues and aspirations.”

Thangal always resisted pressures to take up plum postings in Muslim countries that had good relations with India and also preferred to keep away from the corridors of power.

For several decades he had been the fulcrum on which the IUML, the second most powerful ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala, stood steady.

Thangal, born May 4, 1936, was the eldest son of Panakkad Pookoya Thangal. The Thangal family claims to be descendents of the Prophet Mohammad.

After his schooling in Calicut, he went for higher studies on Islam in Tirur. In 1958, he went to Egypt for further studies and obtained a higher degree from Al Azhar University in 1961.

He continued his studies in Cairo University and pursued a doctorate in Arabic literature in 1966.

On the death of his father in 1975, he took over as president of the Kerala state committee of IUML, a post he held till his death.

After the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, Thangal made a passionate plea to all the Muslims in the state to remain calm.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan lauded the role played by Thangal in preserving social harmony in the state.

Bharatiya Janata Party state president P.K. Krishnadas said Thangal’s contribution in preventing the spread of terrorism in the state would be remembered for long.

State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala said the state had lost a spokesperson of secular values.

Malappuram district, which has the highest concentration of the Muslim population in the state, owes much of its development to the visionary in Thangal. He was behind the proposal to start another campus of Aligarh Muslim University in Kerala

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IUML supremo Shihab Thangal passes away; final rites today

Malapppuram: Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) chief Panakkakad Muhammadali Shihab Thangal died here on Saturday night. Thousands of people have assembled in Malappuram to pay their condolences to the departed leader. The body is being kept at the Town Hall for the public to pay homage. Final rites will take place at the Panakkad Juma Masjid at 3 pm on Sunday.

Ministers Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Binoy Viswom, Elamaram Kareem and PDP chief Abdul Nasser Madhani paid their homage to Thangal. Other ministers and top political leaders are expected on Sunday morning.

Malappuram resembled a stoic silence with the traffic coming to a standstill and police trying to streamline the mourners who have come to pay their condolences. The body will be kept at the Town Hall till 1 pm.

A central figure in Kerala politics for the last three decades, Thangal (73) died at a private hospital in Malappuram, IUML sources said. Thangal had been under treatment for diabetes.

Thangal, son of Panakaad Sayed Ahammed Pookoya Thangal, was born on May 4, 1936. After completing school education from M.M. High School, Kozhikode, he did his higher studies from Egypt. He got his degree in arabic literature from Cairo University.

After the death of his father Panakaad Sayed Ahammed Pookoya Thangal, he became the state president of Indian Union Muslim League in 1975. While assuming the supreme post of the party he was just 31 years. Apart from this he was functioning as the head of various educational institutions and orphanages.

He is succeeded by wife Marhum Sayida Shareefa Fathima, daughter Suhara Bheevi, Fairoosa Bheevi, Sameera Bheevi, son Basheerali Shihab Thangal and Ahamed Munavarali Thangal.

Expressing condolence at the death of Thangal, Kerala Governor R S Gavai said he was a leader who had always upheld
the secular spirit and won the love and affection of people cutting across political affiliations.

Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said Thangal was a leader who had always played a vital role in maintaining communal harmony. Meanwhile, KPCC General secretary K Sudhakaran, MP today termed Thangal’s death as an ‘irrepairable loss’ to the Opposition United Democratic Front in Kerala.

‘Thangal enjoyed unblemished command not only over the Muslim League but even the entire UDF. He had the flawless
capacity to clear any differences of opinion. A leader of his stature could be rare in political circles,’ he said.

Sudhakaran cancelled his scheduled visit to New Delhi, to attend the IUML supremo’s funeral on Sunday.

Kannur District Congress Committee President P Ramakrishnan said Thangal’s demise was a ‘huge loss’ to those who believed in secularism and communal harmony.

‘He (Thangal) represented hope for secular ideals. His death is a loss not just for the IUML, but for all people who wish for a sustained democratic set up in India,’ he said.

Thangal: A stalwart who dominated Kerala for three decades

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) state president Panakkad Muhammadali Shihab Thangal, who strode the political scene of Kerala for over three decades as a powerful but sober player, died on Saturday night.

Thangal (73), also a spiritual leader, had been under treatment for diabetes for some time. He was taken to the hospital this afternoon after collapsing at home. He is survived by three daughters and two sons.

Thangal, who succeeded his father Panakkad Pookoya Thangal as IUML state president in 1975, had been a key factor of the
Congress-led UDF coalition in the state.

The Panakkad Thangal family, held in high esteem by the Mappila Muslims in Malabar, traces their ancestry to the family of Prophet Muhammad.

Thangal’s role in keeping religious and social harmony even at trying times like the post-Babri Masjid demolition had been
recgonised by all sections in Kerala, including the Left and the BJP.

Cutting across political and religious lines, people from all walks of life expressed grief at the death of Thangal. An Islamic scholar who specialised in Arabic literature and philosophy in Cairo University in Egypt, Thangal was also well versed in English and French.Despite being a powerful political figure, Thangal had kept away from electoral contests and never occupied any government positions.

Thangal was born on May 4, 1936 at Kodappanakunnu Thangal family in Malappuram. After his schooling and religious
education in Kerala, he left for Egypt for higher studies in 1958. After studying at Al Azhar University for two years, he joined Cairo University for studies for the next five years.

He took his post graduation in Arabic literature and returned to Kerala in 1965. He also established good relations with world leaders during his stay in Egypt.

Though Thangal was offered jobs in Saudi Airlines and the Egyptian Embassy, he chose to work for the people of Kerala,
especially for the social and educational advancement of his community.

Thangal’s domain was not restricted to politics alone. He played an equally important role in socio-cultural fields. He served as Qazi of numerous localities and patronised a number of charitable institutions in various parts of the state.