Panakkad Shihab Thangal, the politician cum religious leader, was born as Panakkad Syed Mohammedali Shihab Ba-Alawi Al-Hussainy Pookoya Thangal on 4th May 1936 in Malappuram, Kerala. He is the son of an Islamic leader, Panakkad Syed Ahmed Pookoya Thangal. He is the elder brother of Sayed Hyderali Shihab Thangal, Syed Sadiqali Shihab Thangal, Sayyid Abbasali Shihab Thangal and Sayed Umerali Shihab Thangal. Panakkad Shihab Thangal went to MM High School in Kozhikode. He did his religious courses under the mentorship of Ponmala Moideen Musliar at Thalakkadathur and Kananchery Dars. He went to Egypt to do a Master’s degree in Arabic Literature in 1958. He got the degree in 1961 from Al Azhar University. He did a doctorate in Arabic Literature at Cairo University in 1966 and returned to India after eight years. In 1975, Shihab Thangal lost his father and then, he was made the President of the Indian Union Muslim League of Kerala. Until his death, he was the President of that Union.
Thangal worked in Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama, the Islamic Organisation in Kerala. Panakkad Shihab Thangal was the President of Jamia Darussalam Al Islamiya, Jamia Nooriya Arabiya and Nandi. Thangal was the founding member of Markazu Tharbiyathil Islamiyya in Valancheri and MEA Engineering College. Thangal was keen on starting the branch of Aligarh Muslim University in Kerala.
Thangal got remarried in 2007 at 71 and his second wife was Aisha. Thangal has three children. In 2009, he fell down at his residence and was admitted to the hospital. On 1st August 2009, he got a severe cardiac arrest and died at the hospital. He was rested in peace with state honors at Juma Masjid in Panakkad.