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.”
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.”
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.”