A tribute to my uncles who were gunned down in the Nazimabad attacks


You never think it’s going to happen to you… until it does.

Just over a week ago, I was in a queue with my four-year-old son. We were waiting for a train ride around the park near my parents’ house, when I received a phone call from my mum. It was the phone call that nobody ever wants to receive; the phone call that informs you of tragedy at home.

Five of my maternal uncles had been shot in Nazimabad, Pakistan. We weren’t sure who was alive at that point, but as we took to Twitter, the true reality of the horror was emerging. A ladies majlis, commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (the grandson of the Holy Prophet (SAW)) was taking place in a private residence; gunmen on motorbikes had opened fire, and three of my uncles, Naiyer Mehdi Zaidi, Nasir Abbas, and Baqar Abbas Zaidi had been gunned down in targeted killings.

My remaining two uncles, Tahir Abbas and Nadir Abbas, and my 15-year cousin, Murtaza Ali Zaidi were in critical condition in the hospital. By the mercy of Allah, they have now recovered well.

Let’s be clear here; the attacks were sectarian, specifically targeting the Shia community. Later, the militant organisation, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi took responsibility for the attacks. A spokesman for the group said: “There is no room for the enemies of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in Pakistan”, a reference to Pakistan’s Shia minority.

It is important to note that whoever is behind these attacks, they are following a deviant interpretation of religion aligned to ISIS and al-Qaeda. This intolerant ideology comes from Saudi’s Salafi-Takfiris; they are a violent offshoot of mainstream Islam, and this tiny minority group is giving Muslims around the world a bad name.

In Pakistan, Shias are a persecuted minority who are still not free to practice their religion without fear of being killed for their beliefs. These attacks used to take place in public places, such as mosques, schools and hospitals. Now the attacks are taking place in private residences, which means people are not even free to practice religion in their own homes.

You think that these kinds of attacks happen to other people, but there are so many Shias being targeted, the chances are that you will know someone in Pakistan affected by these acts of violence. At the beginning of October, these same hardline groups killed my friend’s cousin, Mansoor Sadiq Zaidi, in a targeted attack, as he stood with his son outside his house. 

This is genocide, and it is specifically targeting the Shia community.

But this blog post is not an account of what happened that fateful day. You can read that yourself in the newspapers that have covered the event, including The Independent, The Guardian and The Seattle Times. The news made the front page of The Evening Standard last Friday.

This blog post is intended to tell you what you might not know about my mum’s brothers. I want you to know about their magnanimous personalities, about their humanity, and their values.

My mum’s brothers were very open-minded, tolerant, loving people who touched the lives of every single person they met. As I write this post, I know that there are not enough words to express the depth of the grief I am feeling, nor are words enough to explain how incredible my uncles were.

The Nazimabad firing took place during the Holy month of Muharram, when Shias commemorate Imam Hussain’s martyrdom. Ultimately, Hussain’s struggle was about freedom from oppression; about sacrifice to protect universal human values. My uncles lived with the love of the family of the Prophet (SAW) in their hearts, and they implemented these values in their everyday lives.

During the attacks, the gunmen attempted to gain access to the ladies majlis in the house. When they could not enter, they fired gunshots on the people who were sitting outside. As the gunmen came forward, Baqar Abbas Zaidi, my mum’s youngest brother, opened up his arms to protect  the door and to stop the killers from going inside the house. He was killed instantly as the gunmen opened fire on his chest.

I think about how many lives Baqar Mamu has saved through this fearless act of self-sacrifice. By standing between the door and the gunmen, he prevented them from entering the house, thus stopping further bloodshed and carnage.

My Mum’s eldest brother was Naiyer Zaidi, a British citizen who had resided in London for more than 30 years. He loved this country as he had spent most of his adult life here.

Every year, Naiyer Mamu would go to Pakistan to commemorate the events of the tragedy of Karbala with his family. He loved to read poetry, books and literature. After retirement, he spent more and more of his time reading about Islam, and he loved to spend his time in the company of learned Islamic scholars.

It is my view that religious conviction manifests itself in the values of humanity, and Naiyer Mamu’s personality is testament to this. He was kind, he was generous and he was incredibly humble. Moreover, he would view everything in his life as an example of God’s infinite mercy. His positive outlook on life and his ability to always see the best in people is incredibly inspiring.

The true essence of religion is about akhlaaq; it’s about how you treat your fellow human beings. When my paternal grandfather, Qaiser Hussain Zaidi passed away, Naiyer Mamu truly was a rock for our family, giving us so much support and kindness in a period of great difficulty.

Another uncle who was killed on that horrible day was Nasir Abbas, a US citizen. Nasir Mamu brought joy, happiness and laughter to every single person he met. In 2008, my sister and I visited him in the US. In only a few days, Nasir Mamu had such an incredible effect on me. He had what can only be described as a magnetic personality. He was so full of life; not only was he absolutely hilarious, but we would spend hours conversing with him about many topics, including philosophy, poetry, politics. He was incredibly open-minded; he didn’t care about who you were or where you came from. He treated everyone with the same love, respect and dignity.

I have been reflecting on the personalities of my mamus and thinking about what I can learn from them. They were all so positive in their outlook, always seeing the best in every situation.

I know that they would have seen even the way they left this world as an example of God’s blessings. They lived their life through the love of the values of the Prophet (SAW) and his Holy household, and they left this world in the same way. As I watch their funeral, I know the cries of “Labaik Ya Hussain!” would have comforted their souls. They have become shaheed.

I feel so honoured and privileged to have known them, and I feel so sad that they are no longer with us. But to have left this world in the way they did is no doubt a great blessing. They have given me a lifetime of beautiful memories, and to know that so many people around the world are remembering them so fondly, is a source of great comfort.

Please pray for the departed souls of Naiyer Mehdi Zaidi, Nasir Abbas and Baqar Abbas Zaidi.

Please pray for Muhammad Zaki Khan and Nadeem Lodhi, who were also martyred in this brutal attack and for the families of the injured and the deceased.

Please also pray for the soul of Mansoor Sadiq Zaidi.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.
All images are copyright of Aliya Zaidi. All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission.

80 thoughts on “A tribute to my uncles who were gunned down in the Nazimabad attacks”

  1. no words for condolence…but if u look at last 5 years most of Zaidiz who were well placed were targeted..starting from Sibt e Jaffar Zaidi sb to Mohsin Zaidi…Sheheryar Zaidi…Hassan Raza Zaidi…and so on…all were highly educated and qualified and well placed…infact all shias who were well placed and highly eduacted were targeted. Nayyar and Nasir Zaidi sb were gems. people like us who went to best schools/uniz of the world and came back to Pakistan r the ones in hit list..we r forced to keep a low profile…we cant even use sim cards on our name..we have to hide identityz…there was a time when people use to call us fool who left our jobs in uk/us/eu/aus/nz and came to pakistan to serve…now i second them that we r stupidz…

  2. Deepest condolences to you and you family, and my prayers for your deceased uncles. May their killers be brought to justice. Nothing short of the death penalty

    1. This is a reply to Saman Jaffar and I like you to ponder about it. You are wishing “nothing short of the death penalty” Is this eye for an eye, or can we have compassion for people who are able to commit these atrocities because they also has the spark of the Divine in him/her just like you and me and everyone of God’s creation. I live in the US and our first Lady Michelle Obama declared a few weeks ago ( considering our election) ” when they go low , we go high”

      1. What would you have wished had they killed your family? I am sure you wouldn’t have forgiven them!

  3. No word to express sadness. I live in US but my parents r in Pakistan. Everytime hearing these horrible news made me think are we safe to visit Pakistan? It is absolutely Shia genocide and shame on Government who is doing nothing. My deepest condolences to u and your Family. Labaik Ya Hussain !!

  4. انا لله وانا اليه راجعون

    Accept my deepest condolences. May ALLAH ALMIGHTY grant them the highest ranks of Jannah.

  5. I worked with Mr Zaidi (as we all called Naiyer Zaidi) early on in my career. He was a kind and peaceful man. I struggled to accept that he has passed on after this cowardly attack.

    My lasting memories of him are of our shared passion of cricket – watching, debating and playing.

    His wisdom was unique.

    My prayers are with you and your family.

  6. We means, I and my family are still in shock. No day is here when we discuss on this incident which is no doubt is terrible very much. Indeed I don’t have any word to condole you. Only the time would stitch your wounds. We all are with you in your grief.

  7. Thanks a lot for writing this blog and enlightening us with attributes of your dear uncles.
    May Allah (swt) grant the above-mentioned martyrs highest ranks in the company of Syed ush Shuhadaa(a.s.), Ilaahi Aameen

  8. Your post broke my heart. Praying for you and your family. It’s tragic how Pakistan has turned in a haven for extremism and violence. Even more tragic is how the authorities turn a blind eye. I fear for the future of the country. How much innocent blood must be shed before anything changes.

  9. My deepest condolences to entire family. I did not know all of your uncles by new a bit about Nasir zaidi as he was in group ‘Pakistani American Group” (PAG). When I learned about this incident I wrote on PAG, may people were shocked in disbelief. The Admin of PAG Mr. Mian Wasim responded as follows.
    “Also have to share with you I was tagged by Raza Kazmi sb & i came to know One of our PAG Respected Member name Nasir Abbas became Victim of sectarian violence in Pakistan & Per my understanding he was visiting Pakistan from US – Nasir Abbas Family & love ones – Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss…our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
    With love and hugs, & it’s so sad to see such Tragedies where innocents people lose life just cause they believe something which majority dose not – million dollar question is since when we became God front line killing force ? & who give us the Power to kill fellow human being just cause he or she do not belong to / Believe in what ever the hell we believe ? it’s very sad what we have become ! if we keep doing what we have been our fate is looking very dark !”

  10. Really we are speecless as what is happening around us,,,we Shia not safe inside our homes,,,may Allah give sabr to effected families,,may this not happen again,,my condolence & prayers with your all family members,,,

  11. Assalamu aleykum,

    Such a tragedy! Tears, tears… I pray for a turn of circumstance for the shia around the world, and I pray that your family lives fully and will continue to be strong for the sake of Hussain (as) and his message.

  12. Dear Alia

    To face the terrorist attack is not a problems . Change after the attaks of terririst in the lives of victims of terrorism have so many questions .

    There are thousands of families have become helpless and facing the ignorance and injustice of society . Please think about those . My deepest condolence is for your family. Hope we will also join hands to support victims of terrorism in pakistan.

    Tasneem syed
    Chairman SAAP
    Email: saaptvsp@gmail.com

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  15. I am really sorry to hear about loss. I appreciate the fact that you tried to humanise the victims, over time we have developed the tendency to take tragic loss of life as a statistic only. Its crucial we remember the deceased for the people the were, the lives the lived and the void they left for their loved ones.

  16. Deepest condolences to your family. Your uncles sound like such kind souls. I hope these barbarians are bought to justice and the others wake up to the tragic genocide that is relentlessly taking place in our country.

  17. It’s shocking. Undoubtedly, Aliya deserves a condolence on personal level but the issue is far bigger. We must not trivialise it to the level of her personal tragedy. It’s tragedy for the whole nation. It’s a sad moment for the country. It was not her uncles or Zaidis who have been gunned down. It is the very essence and soul of a nation that is being trampled and obliterated. The future of our generations is at stake, regardless of one’s political or religious beliefs. I personally don’t know Aliya or her family and was not born to Shia parents but i come from a family of extensive and liberal inter-marriages. This is no less shocking for me also.

    1. Of course. I’m using my personal experience to raise awareness of the wider issue here, and to humanise the deceased. They cannot become just another statistic. Also, we need be unified against these terrorists. Not about a particular religious belief, it’s about our humanity.

  18. ‎اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ .
    ‎ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعون
    Accept our deepest condolences. May ALLAH grant them the highest place of Jannah.

  19. Can’t begin to explain how tertibly sorry I feel for your loss. Mamus are the best; so much precious and fun! Losing them in such horrific, barbaric way is devastating. my heartfelt prayers for the highest ranks for all those brave martyrs. May Allah give you and your family the strength to bear with this immense loss, Ameen!
    What is sad is that there will be no accountability, and in a few weeks it will just be you, the close ones to remember. Rest will be history.

  20. May Allah swt grant these shuadah the highest place in janatul Firdaus; Naiyyer Uncle was a good friend of my late father and my Uncle. This tragedy has affected us all, let us not forget them, and strive to propagate true Islam as intended by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) . Our prayers our with your families and may Allah swt give you all sabr .Ameen

  21. No words about this tragic incident.I have seen Nadir Abbas when he lived in islamabad he use to actively participate in Imambargah as a Trustee.This incident has proved that Shias of Pakistan are not even safe in their homes.

  22. Very tragic. Indeed!! the departed souls were shaheeds. My deepest condolences to you and the entire family. May Allah swt grant the brave souls highest place in jannah…

  23. Assalamu aleykum,
    Dear Sister in faith,
    What a tragedy! It has been really shocking. But I just want to remind you that we have been subjected to such tragedies since long. They kill our men, women and children with hope that they can fisnsh us. But they forget that killing Imam Hussain not killed Him but killed Yazid. All these events glue us more with Imam.
    I pray for the SHUHDA and their families.

  24. Aaliya, we all share your grief and pray that Allah SWT grants your wonderful mamuns highest place in Jannah. They are shaheed and Allah Taala has promised great rewards for those who leave this world having deep love for Prophet Mohammad pbuh and his progeny, a.s.
    May Allah swt give the entire family strength to bear this colossal loss.

  25. My deepest condolence. May Allah Pak make things easier for the family members & high ranks for the souls in Jannat.

  26. every shia must learn lesson from this incidence, persons suffered were somehow relation with me, keeping in mind world situation of sectarian violence, Iraq Syria, try to limit our activities up to imambargahs and arrange full security, do not provide these sectarian terrorists easy target.

  27. My family and I know Asif Zaidi. It is via Asif that we first heard about this shocking attack, and then the details emerged in the British news media. We were stunned by this random act of brutality. Our hearts go out to the families, loved ones and friends of all the victims.

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