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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 22:40 GMT 23:40 UK
Ancient man's prayers answered
Habib Miyan's dream is to make a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca
Two strangers have pledged to pay for a 132-year-old man's last ambition - to visit Mecca - to be realised, after reading his story on BBC News Online.

Habib Miyan, who lives in the Indian state of Rajasthan, told the BBC he dreamt of going on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

He has been drawing a pension of 1,900 rupees (about $40) a month since 1938, but relatives say he could not afford to pay for the trip.

But inspired by the story of Mr Miyan's life and his one unfulfilled wish, two British men have begun efforts to make sure his dream is realised.

Speaking to BBC News Online, they both said it would be an honour to help him and said they did not want publicity or recognition for their efforts.

Khan, a 30-year-old company chairman from London, said: "I see it as an obligation. If you are able to help someone - you definitely should.

Habib Miyan
Habib Miyan can claim to be the world's longest-registered pensioner

"Going to Mecca is his wish and I think that wish should be fulfilled."

The other donor, Rahman, a 31-year-old taxi driver from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, told the BBC it was just something he had to do.

He said: "The way I look at it, God has given me wealth and in another part of the world there is a poor guy - as a human being I should help.

"He can't afford it and his last wish was to go to Mecca."

Mr Miyan, who claims to be 132 (his pension book says 125), has limited mobility and lost his vision 50 years ago.

But that has not diminished his dream to make the pilgrimage, something Rahman says he can fully understand.

'Modern miracle'

He said: "All Muslims in their lifetime, if they have the money, should go to Mecca at least once.

"I was saving up to take my son in August... but at the end of the day this is more important."

The finer details of getting the money to Mr Habib are yet to be finalised and it is not yet clear is he is physically able to make the long journey.

Going to Mecca is his wish and I think that wish should be fulfilled
Khan, 30, from London
Nobody yet knows the full cost involved in transporting Mr Miyan from Jaipur to Mecca.

But Khan said: "I genuinely look at this as a modern day miracle.

Family trip

"Habib wanted to go to Mecca, a story appeared on the internet, and he (looks like he) is getting his wish."

Khan, who has also pledged to pay for two members of Mr Miyan's family to travel with him, was ebullient in his praise for the role of the web.

He added: "Had this technology not existed the story would not have happened.

"If it wasn't for the BBC it couldn't have been done and I see them as just as an important component in all this.

"Habib, God willing, will get the chance to go to Mecca, go on his pilgrimage, and go home."

  • Khan and Rahman are assumed names for the purpose of this article only.

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