A 93-year-old great grandmother who still has all her own teeth attributes the use of the miswak (teeth cleaning twig) to her dental success.

Iqbal Begum only wears glasses to read and told us why she felt it was important for others to keep active in one’s old age.

Iqbal from Blackburn said, “I was 17 years old when I got married. I was unfortunately widowed at the age of 29. I have three children, one son and two daughters.

“After the passing away of my husband I did not remarry and brought up my children as a single mother. God gave me the strength to take care of my children and provide for them."

Asian Image:

Iqbal, who originally hails from Kenya, travels back frequently, and maintains she enjoys journeying independently, without any help.

“I enjoy travelling. People assume it would be daunting for me, but after a lifetime of responsibility for others, travelling alone is such a liberating experience.”

As well as avidly watching old Bollywood films and Star Plus dramas, Iqbal is a self-professed food aficionado. 

She added, “I'm not a picky eater and therefore would eat any food that is made in the house

“I love vegetarian food.

“People are surprised to hear this, but I now love eating burgers and chips with fizzy drinks.

“I have almost always eaten homemade food. 

“I used to love eating sugar cane when I was younger.

“Before I came to the UK, we lived on a farm, so everything was grown at home.
“I advise eating all food types. The essential thing is to look after your teeth and have a thorough cleansing routine.

“I feel great having all my own teeth which are in good condition, especially considering my age.

“The dentist also says that I am very fortunate to have them.

“I have also used a miswak throughout my life. I feel that has been very beneficial.”

Asian Image:

Iqbal’s granddaughter Shaiza Mughal said her grandmother remains her source of inspiration.

She told us, “My nani is an angel. She is a wonderful role model. She has had a challenging life, but she has always retained a positive outlook. That is something we can all emulate.”

With fourteen great-grandchildren, Iqbal’s life is always vibrant and lively.
Grandson Tariq Malik said he is amazed at his grandmother’s memory.

“Not only is she active, but she remembers everything, which is incredible for someone of that age. Her memory is very sharp.

“She does everything herself at home and can be walking up and down the stairs ten times a day.

“She even does her own ironing!

“It’s a great example for us youngsters!”

Iqbal’s inspiration transcends two generations. Great-granddaughter Zaynah said she is always in awe of her.

“My great grandmother is an incredible woman. 

“She has always prayed five times a day. Every month she finishes reading the Quran. 

“No-one can guess by looking at her or by talking to her that she is ninety.”

Asian Image:

Iqbal shared her personal tips to achieve a long and healthy life.

“I have had a great life. My earliest memory is when I was a young girl running and playing outside my father’s shop in Nairobi.

“Time passes so fast and now I have eight grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren.

“I read the newspaper and keep up-to-date with current affairs. It’s important to keep the brain active.
“I believe in having a rosy and positive outlook and I am surrounded by people I love. I couldn’t wish for anything more.”

This feature appeared in the June 2019 edtion of Asian Life here