Pakistani-American couple donates $15 million to Catholic university

Published: March 18, 2017
Rafat and Zoreen Ansari at home in Granger, Ind. PHOTO COURTESY: NYT

Rafat and Zoreen Ansari at home in Granger, Ind. PHOTO COURTESY: NYT

A Pakistani-American couple has announced they will donate $15 million to University of Nortre Dame after spending four decades in the country, New York Times reported.

Rafat and Zoreen Ansari, both doctors hailing originally from Pakistan who settled in the United States as immigrants, have earned a reputation of civic leaders in the suburb of South Bend. On Friday, in a bid to leave behind a legacy, they shared they would gift $15 millioto the university for fostering a better understanding of religion.

“We came as immigrants, and this country has given us so much,” Zoreen said ahead of the announcement. “We want to give something back to America, but also to humanity. We want to promote the idea of equality.”

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The $15 million fund will be used to create the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute of Global Engagement With Religion. The aim of the institute will be to expand knowledge about religions and how their practices affect world events.

“Whenever you get a gift of this size, it’s tremendous, but particularly to have this named for the Ansari family, who is Muslim, is tremendously meaningful to us,” said President of Notre Dame Reverend John I Jenkins in an interview. “We believe religion is very important in our world. It can have a negative impact, but it should be possible to study the ways religion can be a force for human development and peace.”

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The couple said the idea had been in the making for some 18 months and they did not wish to make a political statement through it. But its timing has now made a political gesture given the situation in the United States following Trump’s victory in the US elections with a travel ban on a few Muslim countries.

“In the last couple of years, the majority of problems have been created by misunderstandings among religions,” said Rafat, an oncologist and hematologist. “Is this the right time for the announcement? Yes, because there is so much going on.”

The amount was considered enormous for the donors as well as the receiving varsity. “We’re not billionaires,” Zoreen said. “We had to think, how is it going to affect us? There were a lot of parts.”

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Reader Comments (11)

  • SNKN
    Mar 18, 2017 - 5:49PM

    Jazakallah Khair… this is a great act of charity which is much appreciated in order to support harmony and understanding between people Recommend

  • Billa
    Mar 18, 2017 - 6:22PM

    Well done! May God bless them.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Mar 18, 2017 - 6:30PM

    The real problem is not about harmony. West believes that Islam is not compatible with freedom, democracy, equality and human rights. Without addressing this problem, talking about harmony is waste of time and money. Harmony would come automatically when both civilizations are on same page. Recommend

  • Azeem Meo
    Mar 18, 2017 - 6:30PM

    Masha Allah. Keep up the great work.

    There another program to be considered for donation to is “Wellness Healthcare Complex – Pakistan” which is start-up 600 beds teaching hospital, along with medical, dental, pharmacy, nurses and allied healthcare colleges. Estimated $300M project to serve rural area and students from poor families. Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Mar 18, 2017 - 7:20PM

    Why catholc institution, which is the richest of all world institutions? The Evangelists trumpers are against the growth of the Islamic religion. More appropriate would have been a University Hospital which provides free medical service to the uninsured Americans? Is there a one already financed by Billionaires Moffat or Bill Gates?

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Saleem
    Mar 18, 2017 - 9:13PM

    What a waste! Why not to medical research which is likely to improve quality and save lives.Recommend

  • Shah
    Mar 19, 2017 - 12:26AM

    Good idea, it is time for you to do so and spend rest of your life doing free service to medical hospitals matching your mental limits and capabilities; Recommend

  • Anz
    Mar 19, 2017 - 9:35AM

    Why not to some college here?Recommend

  • Shakil
    Mar 20, 2017 - 4:48AM

    Their money, their choice!
    A country who educated them to be doctors and enabled them to be successful should also be considered specially when there are so many who could benefit from such gestures.Recommend

  • Engr Zeeshan Ahmed
    Mar 22, 2017 - 11:21AM

    I am appreciate to that person thinking and given important human beings.
    Zeeshan AhmedRecommend

  • khalid rashid
    Mar 24, 2017 - 9:05AM

    I fully agree with uzair abbas.


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