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In Memories (English)
The Blessings of an Unseen Presence
I’ve never seen Sayyid Muhammad Ali Shihab directly. But he was a visual presence even to those who’ve never seen him, like a moonlight coming to you through the window, informing the presence of moon above in the sky. The land of India which is calm by its nature, has been prone to many tragedies which spread the fatal virus of religious apathy. How many events from the demolition of Babari Masjid to the Marad issue happened in the final decade of the last century? When an inferno happens, those who try to extinguish and contain it from spreading to neighbouring places are great philanthropists. In the last decades, the Keralites felt the presence of this peace lover who carried out the difficult duty of reclaiming the balance in society, going beyond the casto-religious differences and narrowed vainglories, having country and people in the eye, taking all the countrymen to be one with a unique fellow feeling, utilizing his own influence and energy.

The demolition of Babari Masjid was a challenge posed against a community. Those who capered upon the falling old domes were provoking them. In Kerala, the southernmost end of India, that attempts never proved effective. The presence of this great man there turned out to be very decisive. This will remain remarkably recorded in the history of Kerala forever.

The Arabs reached Kerala as honest merchants. They compiled the spices of Kerala and took it to their homeland, abiding by all the rules of trade here. Many of them took Kerala to be there own home. They formed major part of population in many parts of India. Thus, many Masjids came into existence here. They were never colonizers. In a land of Hindu majority, they co-existed with their identity intact. These all are now part of our history. So I don’t explain more. As long as the real human beings are here, Sayyid Muhammad Ali Shihab will be remembered as one of the great leaders who blessed his community with a healthy leadership, in the light of facts. His presence was felt by even those who never saw him. Better not to see and yet to respect than see and not understand. So let me say with happiness: I too felt the unseen presence of Panakkad Sayyid Muhammad Ali Shihab. What pops out of his memory is the elixir of Love.
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