The 2-year-old survivor of the horrific road accident in Makkah that claimed the lives of his parents, grandfather and two other close relatives has returned home in South Wales.
A memorial service was held at the Jamia Mosque in Newport to remember the five members of the Welsh family who died in the car crash while on the pilgrimage to Makkah.
Shaukat Ali Hayat, 56; his wife Abida, 47; eldest son Mohammed Ishaq, 33; daughter Saira Zainab, 29; and Ishaq’s wife, Bilquees, 30; were killed when the taxi they were traveling in rammed into a concrete barrier on the busy Makkah-Jeddah Expressway.
Mohammed Eisa, son of Mohammed Ishaq and Bilquees, was the only survivor. He suffered a dislocated shoulder, broken arm and ribs. “How he survived is a miracle,” said Dr. Ibrahim Hayat, the boy’s great uncle.
Talking to Arab News from Newport yesterday, he said: “My brother (Eisa’s grandfather) grabbed him and held him in his arms so tight he took the brunt of the impact and died. I am told that if there had been a fly flying around in that car it would not have survived.”
According to eyewitnesses, Eisa’s feeble cries were heard among the wreckage before he was found cushioned in the arms of his grandfather. “What a miracle,” he said.
Ibrahim Hayat said there was an outpouring of love and affection from the entire community. “The memorial service was attended by top politicians, community representatives and elders, neighbors and people of all faiths,” he said. “That was very soothing and comforting, and has to some extent lessened our pain and anguish.”
He said the young survivor was showered with kisses and affection by all those who came to console us. “They hugged him and held him aloft; all eyes were on him,” he said. “The newspapers here have dubbed him ‘the miracle baby,’” he said.
All the five victims were buried in Madinah early this week. “My brother always felt very attached to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his city, and so it comes as some kind of a solace that he and others have their final resting place in Jannat-ul-Baqi,” said Ibrahim Hayat.
“My brother leaves behind two young daughters, one son and one grandson — I will be their legal guardian,” said Ibrahim Hayat who is very popular in the community as a general practitioner.
“It is not often that politicians are lost for words but today is one of those days. I speak as a mother and a grandmother and I’m here just to pay tribute to the fantastic community work done by the whole Hayat family,” said Rosemary Butler while speaking at the memorial service.
Jamia Mosque Secretary Abdul Rahman Mujahid said more than 1,000 people attended the memorial service to pay their respects to the family.
“All of us were closely following their heart-rending story through the newspapers and television and radio and so when the memorial service was held in our mosque, everyone came in,” Mujahid told Arab News on phone from Newport. “There were many poignant moments, and little one looked like an angel.”