Outside a Detroit mosque one night last summer, the scent of cumin and turmeric wafted through the air as volunteers served a long-awaited meal to members of the congregation who were observing Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. Each day, in one of Islam's most important practices, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Also in attendance were needy members of the community who had been invited to join them for a free meal.
"Fasting helps Muslims understand the hunger that far too many people feel daily," says Nausheen Razvi, former coordinator of Ramadan Fight Against Hunger (RFAH), an annual food campaign that has benefited the poor in metro Detroit during the 29- or 30-day observation since 2012.
In addition to the free dinners offered at various mosques throughout Ramadan, Nausheen organizes the collection of shelf-stable food and its delivery to impoverished families. "Regardless of religion, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, food has a way of bringing us together," she says.
Nausheen, 38, grew up in India, where her parents were always offering support to friends, neighbors and strangers in need. "It was their way of telling us, 'You have all of this; now think about others who have less than you.' "
As an adult, Nausheen moved to the U.S., married a Michigan native and later settled in Canton, MI. She has volunteered nearby for over a decade, chiefly through the Michigan Muslim Community Council, a group connecting Muslims through service.
In 2015, she was hired as its administrative director to run several events, including RFAH. That meant mobilizing volunteers, teaming up with local humanitarian groups and food banks, assigning donation sites and making deliveries to recipients.
Last year, Nausheen oversaw more than 400 volunteers and partnered with 21 local organizations to gather, sort, pack and distribute 50 tons of food. Though Nausheen stepped down from her post in March, she continues to help with RFAH as an advisory council member.
Young adults often volunteer with RFAH as a way to keep busy during the long month of fasting. Last year Mariam Sharaf, then a rising college senior, began sorting donations at food pantries after hearing about the effort from her mother. "Nausheen is a really good role model," Mariam says. "She's always trying to motivate younger kids to get involved."
Nausheen's children, who are 16, 11 and 6, also lend a hand at RFAH events. Nausheen hopes that service gives them the same sense of purpose it's given her. "The things you do for yourself, they're gone when you're gone," she says. "But the things you do for others become your legacy."
You Can Help: Find out about ways to support RFAH's mission to feed the hungry by going to .