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In Memories (English)
Guide and Advisor of Political Kerala
By Pinarayi Vijayan
There are many streams for the minority politics in Kerala. Sayyid Muhammadali Shihab Thangal was a spokesman of one those streams. He is charismatic personality, who stood and worked for an ideology that he saw as right, and attempted to preach the same to others too.

He kept a good relationship and respect even with the political opponents. Generally hardly speaking Thangal, never stashed a bit in receiving everybody with a whole hearted smile. He was a successful leader in uniting Muslim League as a political party, and in encouraging and bestowing confidence for both leaders and followers.

I don’t think that anybody would argue that he was a good orator and speaker. But, the self-assurance, selfishlessness, and commitment plugged in his each word, and his open-book life in accordance with his ideas and visions, made him popular and accepted among Keralites. His connection with the Sufi tradition, the major stream of Islamic traditions in India, also helped him to develop his personality.

Especially by 1990s, Sangh Pariwar hooligans largely began to threaten the minority peoples of the country, and started to unbound the riots and rebellions against them. The administrators of the state failed to control these kinds of misactivities in the right-way. Consequently, there was a juncture which led to the arising of many terrorist and extremist groups among the minorities. Shihab Thangal stood against those groups and strongly stood against the terrorist activities, which would harm the whole society. His attitudes in this regard are much appreciable.

His behavior of dealing with everyone, especially with the political opponents along with keeping the politico-ideological divergences up, was much attractive and heart-catching. Treating in a special manner with all individuals from different walks of life is the Thangal – Style of approaches. He used to alleviate, in his own way, every common man who came to his presence with complaints, pains and sorrows. There are thousands of people which got cure and alleviation from his breezy smile and calm words.

Shihab Thangal is a political figure, who tried to bring the Muslim religious minority to the mainstream. The education that he acquired from Cairo and from other places facilitated to broaden his attitudes and approaches. He was also interested in seeking knowledge in Arabic language and literature. Thangal always endeavored to be aware of the Islamic traditions and to approach each issue with a broad vision based on these traditions.

He managed to acquire and maintain his own position in the political realm of Kerala. Although he was a spiritual leader, he tried to observe the political budges with sharpened eyes, and to form the attitudes on the basis of that. Many of his approaches have played vital roles in fixing the direction of Kerala politics. His personality was a combination of simplistic life, serene behavior, and approaches based on religious viewpoints.

We can say that, Shihab Thangal’s personality was a combination of political and spiritual action-paths, with a thrust on the spiritualistic side rather than the political faces. Even though he stood for the minority communities, he never closed his eyes towards the rights of other communities too. Therefore, everyone approached him with great respect and reverence. He could keep up these relations, overriding the political barriers.

Shihab Thangal also would be remembered ever as a custodian and safeguard of the humanitarian values. For him, there would be a great recognition in the history of Kerala politics as political leader with breezy attitudes along with his spiritual leadership. He would be an important figure in the history of minority politics too, as a great leader who was capable to acquire good position in the hearts of Keralites.
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