Family serves Christchurch mosque attack victim's favourite food, hosts prayers for 100 guests

9:08 am on 27 March 2019

There were prayers, tears, smiles and laughter at a gathering to remember father and son, Naeem and Talha Rashid, who were killed in the mosque shootings.

Ambreen Rashid and Naema Khan

Ambreen Rashid and Naema Khan Photo: RNZ / Joanna MacKenzie

Naeem's relatives, Nadeem and Naema Khan hosted the prayers and dinner for more than 100 people in their home on a quiet street in Christchurch.

Preparation for the dinner started had started 24 hours earlier, with men cutting up onions and chicken for the dishes.

Mrs Khan, who's Naeem Rashid's widow's sister, said the onions made the men cry as they chopped the food late into the night.

She had decided to make Mr Rashid's favourite dish, Afghani pilau.

"When we were arranging this event for my brother-in-law and my nephew, I asked Ambreen [the sister] and her mother-in-law if they wanted us to cook something special for them."

"And my sister said he used to 'love my Afghani pilau' and so I said 'that's fine, I will do that'. So I cooked my Afghani pilau, for him," she said.

Huge pots of the pilau and a korma were cooked in the back garden all day, as preparations were made for the gathering.

Seating was set out in the driveway and large cushions were placed on the floor inside.

During a quiet time before the guests arrived, Mr Rashid's mother sat alone with the Koran, remembering her son and grandson.

Mr Rashid was a good son and a good Muslim who loved his family very much, Bedar Bakht said.

He also loved living in New Zealand and the people he had met in Christchurch, but he was in the best place now, she said.

Gradually as the afternoon went on, children arrived after school and the house began to fill up.

But before the food was eaten, Imam Ibrahim from Linwood Mosque arrived to pray with those gathered.

First with the men outside in the garden and then the women inside.

He told the women, the community could learn from their ordeal, keep loving each other and he also had words of comfort for Ambreen Rashid and her mother in law, Bedar Bakht.

"They [those who died] were the best in our community, all of them. So you have to be proud that your husband and your son are the cream of this community."

After dinner, men sat outside in the driveway chatting while women sat inside, talking, holding hands and remembering their lost friends.

Mrs Rashid is a woman of strong faith who does not question why her husband and son were killed.

Instead, she chooses to be thankful for her son, Talha, whom she described as a very good boy.

"He loved mountain biking because he was a great lover of nature."

"And he took care of his little brother, who's five almost six-years-old, he taught him all the good things," she said.

Of her husband, she said he was a good man too who was always trying to help other people even when the family had only been in New Zealand for a short time.

Mr Rashid will receive a posthumous bravery award from his home country of Pakistan for tackling the gunman before he died.

Artist Paul X Walsh's tribute to Naeem Rashid, who died in the Christchurch terror attacks

Paul Walsh's mural of Naeem Rashid Photo: Paul X Walsh

His story of courage inspired the artist Paul X Walsh to paint a tribute on a wall in Avondale in Auckland.

Mrs Rashid smiled at the thought of it because the mural made her husband look younger than he was.

"My husband's hair and beard wasn't so black," she said with a small laugh.

"But I know that if he'd been alive he would really have appreciated it," she said.

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