(Transcript of Jaihoon’s speech at the Sayyid Shihab Commemorative Seminar, July 25 2012, MEA Engineering College, Perinthalmanna – Kerala


People may be sweet, but our memories about them may be bitter. Sayyid Shihab however was an incredible exception to this phenomenon

Respected scholars. Dear Friends. It is not easy to confine a personality such as Panakkad Sayyid Muhammadali Shihab within the four walls of our convenience of time and space. His personality, like that of any other sagacious souls who lived on this earth, was like that of the sun. Everyone will want to chant the hymn of their praise which fit their perspective. They would describe and ascribe their interpretations which are unique to themselves.

Jaihoon @ Sayyid Shihab Commemorative Seminar

Considering the age and reason and passion of the young friends seated here, I like to share with you certain hues from the rainbow of his personality. True he was a great political leader, a spiritual sage and an amazing arbitrator, yet there are some aspects of his personality which will appeal to your young mind.

1. Affable Appearance
All that glitters is not gold. But @SayyidShihab is among the notable exceptions. He always used to appear in the most pleasant form, no matter whatsoever the critical situation may be.

2. Transforming the Twists of Fate
When Sayyid Shihab returned from Egypt after his studies, he was confined to his private room in the world of books and magazines. He enjoyed soft music and reading Arabic literature. His only exposure to public was when he served tea to the visitors who came to meet his father. But when he was forced to takeover the leadership of the party after his father’s death, he had to sacrifice his dream of living in a silent world of literature and music. From a solitary bookish and artistic world he was dragged to the noise and nuisance of public life. But he shone in that as well. True his academic dream was shattered. But he transformed that twist of fate to an opportunity.

3. Performance is the Real Experience
The other lesson we derive from his life is that success is not related to prior experience. Sayyid shihab excelled in his political career afresh without the aid of any previous training. His success was like a meteorite, as if it reflected the true meaning of his name. If one is performing for twenty years in the same manner, then it cannot be termed as experience but as laziness.

4. Commitment

Normally we cry when we lose our power or influence. But Sayyid Shihab cried when he got it. He was worried about the burden of his Party’s President post and the responsibilities he would have to discharge to the Community. You will realize from history that the attitude of Rightly Guided caliphs towards power was not very different.

Jaihoon @ Sayyid Shihab Commemorative Seminar

5. Confidence in his decisions.

As a political and community leader, he had to take many critical decisions in his busy life. I’m not saying all were the right ones. In fact some of them were very damaging for his Party’s electoral success. For example, the stand he took after the Babri masjid demolition caused the electoral defeat of one of the most charismatic leaders of his party. Despite, he remained firm in his stand. But as time proved, his was the most apt decision for the future of the community and the nation. He didn’t care if his Party lost, but he wanted harmony and humanity to win. That is why we remember him. He dared to see light ahead when everyone cursed the darkness around them.

Day and night
You thought about us
Awake and asleep
Your heart ached for us

Your dream
To see us in peace play
Your prayers
In bed of unity we lay

Our young ones to prosper
Knowledge be their soul’s whisper
Your only wish for our good
Not a drop be shed of our blood

With your wisdom you saved
Away from the venom we moved
Love was your weapon
Your words with it sharpen(ed)

Volcanoes turned to springs
With a smile you untied strings
You were our sincere mirror
Of our fortune, not error

Time called you the Fiery Star
You only sang love with your sitar

Jaihoon @ Sayyid Shihab Commemorative Seminar

6. Extremist in moderation
Sayyid Shihab appreciated and respected the diversity in life. He never enforced his thoughts on others. He saw life as a whole and once said that ” You need everything. But in limits. Measured”. Would you imagine a sage like him would have time to spend time with pet animals, cultivate rare plants and even read cricket pages from newspapers! His philosophy in life was moderation and he went to any extreme to execute it.

7. Love for Technology
He was very fond of technology. When he returned from Egypt, he had a tape recorder which was unseen by many till then for many around him. He even had a camera in his youth and he enjoyed taking photographs. How many of my friends sitting here, blessed with mechanical, electrical and electronic Engineering know-how would bother to enter the cockpit and enquire to the pilot of a plane about the flying machine? He did. Perhaps he saw technology as the gift and mercy of God for humanity to prosper. Way back in 1999 he used a digital diary to note my contacts when I visited him. If he was alive today, I’m sure he would have put his hands on an iPad to experience the thrill of technology.

8. Proverbs in Practice

We often come across proverbs and wonder if they could actually be possible in practical life. ‘Actions speak louder than words’. Sayyid Shihab was one of the most eloquent examples of this saying. His youngest son noted in a memoir about his father that “He did not advice me with words, but with his own noble actions”. Sayyid Shihab was the best living dictionary in our ruthless times to understand the meaning of personal virtues like Patience.

9. Cool In Both Victory & Defeat

The important lesson I learned from his life was more on how to behave and believe during times of defeat than in victory.

It was an October afternoon in the month of Ramadan in 2006. He was sitting inside the hall without a shirt. Guests were strictly restricted from going near him for fear of infection. He had just returned from US after a critical operation. The Sufi Sultan was perhaps in the greatest crisis of his life. Losses enveloped him from all frontiers.

His physical health was in its historic low. It prevented him from fulfilling the greatest passion in his life – to relieve and resolve, to console and comfort the distressed and deprived.

Secondly, his beloved wife, Sayyida Shareefa, had passed away in Kerala when he was being operated in US. The illustrious daughter of the legendary leader of Kerala, Sayyid Abdur Rahman Bafaqi, would normally accompany her husband on all distant journeys. But Fate was not generous enough to give her time till his return from US. And he was informed of her death only after he reached back in Kerala.

Thirdly on the political front his Party suffered its worst humiliation in its political history. The movement had endured the embarrassing electoral misadventure in his absentia.

When I asked him what gave him the confidence despite the disheartening setbacks in his personal and political life, he corrected me saying he was not disheartened at all. He admitted his Party had lost due to its own doings and would make corrective measures to make up. And today we are living witnesses to that hope and prayer of Sayyid Shihab.

10. Respect for Talents

People from all backgrounds visited him at his residence. Business tycoons as well as the poor and deprived, power hungry politicians as well as spiritual saints, poets and writers as well as orators and singers. And he was just to all in appreciating their talents. He believed each of their talents could be put to noble use for the benefit of the society.

Dear Friends. May I suggest you spare some time in life to know the Sayyid more closely and make an effort to adopt the excellent morals from his life. It will definitely make you a successful person in life to benefit your loved ones and the community.

His Fame

His popularity has increased and will continue to increase in the future. His admirers have developed countless fan pages for him. Several thousands have put his photo as their profile pic across social networks. If you subscribe for Google search alert for ‘Shihab Thangal’, you will get a new alert every day or other day for a new blog, video etc found on the Web.

My Shihab

My family has met him only a handful times. May be just twice or thrice. My father did not sleep the night he passed away. My son and I have seen him in our dreams. This may be the case of thousands of others who loved him for what he was.


I have never had to put my head down in shame for even once in life because of the Sayyid’s words or actions. He possessed the best of the civilized virtues of our modern times- of harmony, pluralism, democracy, secularism, education of the masses, progress of women and of course he was a wonderful living model of spiritual values.

To provoke violence is simple
To set homes afire so easy
To take lives require no brains
To divide hearts just a breeze
To extinguish lights a mere play
To tear pages requires no sages


To preserve peace
To build homes
To sustain growth
To knit souls
To kindle light
To teach wisdom-

Such is the job that deserves the real clap
True, not everyone can match my Sayyid Shihab

Friends. The Rose wins the respect and love of everyone, even the thorn. Sayyid Shihab spoke and lived far more beautiful than the Rose. Live as you shall never die in the hearts of others. Live like Sayyid Shihab.

Love is the greatest miracle of a true Sufi
Spreading HIS Love alone make them happy