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Thangals are the various Muslim communities of Yemeni Arab origin found scattered and isolated in the state of Kerala, India. They migrated to Kerala during the 17th century to expand their business, and propagated Islam as they are Muslims, and do not belong to the Mappila Muslim community of Kerala. In Malayalam, thangal is an honorific Muslim title almost equivalent to the Arabic term Sayyid (Arabic: سيد) which is given to males believed as descendants of Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali, who were the sons of his daughter Fatima Zahra and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib. It has two basic divisions called Ba-Hassan and Ba-Alawi. Al Aidrosi, Al mattari, Al-Jamallulaily(BaJamalullayl), Mashhoor, Shihab, Al-Jifri, Al-Fakhi(Bafakhy), Al-Saqqaf(BaSaggaf), Al-Bukhari, Al-Haboothy(BaHabooth) are considered as important Sayyid families (Qhabeelas). Thangals residing in Panakkad, Malappuram district are often regarded as the most powerful and influential Thangals of Kerala. The Thangal of Panakkad is the supreme leader of the Sunni faction of Muslims of Kerala and hence plays an important role in local politics. The famous Sayyid ancestry Mashhoor is another well known thangals Qabeela residing in Vadakara, Kozhikode district. Mashhoor Qabeela of vadakara is famous in sufi Tariqa which is the spiritual path of Islam.
Thangals are supposed to be descended from Sayyid families, who migrated from the historic city of Tarim, in Hadramawt Province, Yemen, during the 17th century in order to propagate Islam on the Malabar Coast. Mashhoor Qabeela, one of the most famous prophetic families of Malabar started in Kerala with the coming of Sheikh Sayyid Abdurahman Mashhoor to Vatakara in 1710 C.E from Hadhramaut of Yemen. He was the nephew of the great sufi saint Sayyid Cheruseethi Thangal who is laid to rest at Thayangadi Makkham, Vadakara, Kozhikode district.The great Sufi scholar and spiritual master Sheikh Sayyid Muhammed Mashhoor Mullakoya Thangal. and Sheikh Sayyid Muhammed Mashhoor Kunhikoya Thangal are descendants of Sayyid Cheruseeti Thangal (1669 - 1771)
The Al-Bukhari family in Kerala is migrated from Bukhara in the former USSR. This family started with the arrival of a scholar Sayyid Ahmed Jalaludheen Bukhari in early 16th century. He is buried at Kannur. Sayyids selected coastal areas like Kannur, Koyilandy, Kappad, Mampuram, Vadakara, Ponani and Kochi to settle. Al-Bukhari Thangal families migrated from Bukhara in Uzbekistan and now these families are living throughout India. The Delhi Shahi Imam is one of the famous personality coming from the Bukhari family. Bukhari family have played an important role in spreading 'Sufism' throughout India. Sayyids are widely spread in various regions of India such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, etc. In Kerala, Sayyid or Thangal family members are located mainly in Thrissur district (Chavakkad Bukhara, Padoor, Mathilakam), Malappuram district, Kozhikode district, Kannur district and Kasargod district.
Panakkad Pookoya Thangals are considered as the supreme leader of the E. K. Sunnis of Kerala. Also, the Panakkad Pookoya Thangal is usually the President of Kerala state unit of Indian Union Muslim League.
Sheikh Sayyid Muhammed Mashhoor Mullakoya Thangal of Vadakara (1882 to 1987) was a great Spiritual Master and Sufi Scholar in Qadiri Tariqa. His son, Sheikh Sayyid Muhammed Mashhoor Kunhikoya Thangal (1948 - 2017) succeeded his father in Qadiri Tariqa. He is well known as 'Vadakara Thangal'.He became famous as the spiritual master of Qadiriyya, Chisthiya, Tabaqathiya and Zuharawardiya paths of Tariqa following to his father's demise. He imparted the light of love, spirituality and brotherhood to the hearts of many thousands. He has a lot of disciples both inside and outside Kerala