Youth research

Indian Muslim leader of Kerala Thangal dies

A prominent leader and spiritual figure in the southern Indian state of Kerala died on Sunday after a long illness.

Panakkad Sayed Hyderali Shihab Thangal was the chairman of the All India Muslim League, the second biggest ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front in the state. He was 74 years old.

Mr Thangal was undergoing cancer treatment at a private hospital in Ernakulam.

Last week, his condition deteriorated and he was put on a ventilator, but his body had stopped responding to medication, his office told local media.

Mr Thangal was widely respected by the people – his popularity transcending religions – for his strict political stances and secular credentials.

Politicians and leaders from various parties, including Keralan Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, mourned his death.

“He always stood for communal harmony…His approach emphasized secular ideals and, despite political differences, he maintained cordial personal relations,” Mr Vijayan said.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi expressed his condolences and called Mr Thangal a “strong secular voice”.

“He was a strong secular voice in the UDF, supporting brotherhood, respect and progress for all,” Mr Gandhi said.

Mr Thangal belonged to the Panakkad Thangal family, which is believed to have its lineage linked to the Prophet Muhammad, and is traditionally seen as a source of religious and political leadership by much of the state’s Muslim community.

His death paralyzed the town of Malappuram as supporters rushed to pay their last respects.

Mr Thangal started his career as a qazi in Malappuram and became chairman of the Muslim Union of India League in 2009. Prior to that, he served as chairman of Malappuram district for 18 years.

The suave politician has also run several religious establishments and orphanages in Kerala.

Mr. Thangal was very welcoming to people, keeping the doors of his home open to hundreds of his followers who arrived at his house every morning seeking solutions to their concerns and problems.

The IUML was founded in 1948 in Madras, Tamil Nadu after the partition by Indian members of the All India Muslim League to advance the interests of Muslims. Over the years, it has established a strong foothold in Kerala.

Updated: March 07, 2022, 08:57