The British-Pakistani actor and musician announced the tragic news on Instagram, saying his uncle Shakeel was a “legend in his community.”
Sharing a photo and two videos of Shakeel on his 60th birthday, Ahmed wrote: “Heartbroken to say that my uncle Shakeel passed away this weekend due to Covid-19.
“A charismatic storyteller, he could strike up a conversation with anyone and soon have them in tears of one kind or another – either laughing from his unique turn of phrase, or meditating on his spiritual insights.
“His journey was the journey of my people – born in India, then moved to Pakistan, then England. He was an immigrant, then a teddy-boy in silk shirts and medallions, then a banker, and finally a devoted spiritual guide who went out of his way for others.”
Ahmed said Shakeel “fought on til the end,” and had outlived multiple diagnoses of terminal illness.
He said he died “while prostrating (in sajda) for dawn (fajr) prayers in the hospital prayer room.”
“It was a fittingly poetic end for a man who had lyrics for days, and whose faith gave him and so many others such strength.,” Ahmed continued.
“When this is over, we must ensure that our losses have not been in vain. We must help to build a more just and caring society. As he said: ‘May all your dreams come true. And when they do, hope you don’t mind sharing’.”
Ahmed then encouraged others to keep their elders safe, and urged fans to donate to what they can to charities supporting the NHS and refugees.
The Emmy winner recently released his new album The Last Goodbye, a concept album exploring Ahmed’s experience of being brown and British.
After his tour for the album was cancelled due to the lockdown, Ahmed launched an online festival called The Long Lockdown.
The festival includes live-streamed discussions analysing the themes of his album, such as a recent conversation about the concept of home with poet Rupi Kaur and writers Nikesh Shukla and Fatima Bhutto.