Rafat and Noreen Ansari are husband and wife, and both of them are highly accomplished doctors. They are originally from Pakistan and four decades ago decided to settle in the United States making a name for themselves in their local community in the city of South Bend. They announced to the press last week that they would donate $15 million to the University of Notre Dame to further the university’s work on religion.
“We came as immigrants, and this country has given us so much” – Zoreen Ansari
Zoreen said that they wanted to give something back to America, but also to the world. The donated money will be used to establish the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute of Global Engagement With Religion at Notre Dame. The goal would be to create a better understanding of religion and how it affects the world as large when it comes to people, institutions, and countries.
“We want to promote the idea of equality” – Zoreen Ansari
The President of the Notre Dame University Reverend John Jenkins said that a gift of this amount is always very beneficial and important, but the fact that it comes from Muslim immigrants living in the United States really gives it whole new meaning, value, and importance.
“We believe religion is very important in our world.” – Reverend John Jenkins
He said that it is important for people to study religion and how it can be a force for goodwill and understanding between peoples from all over the world and of every nationality. Reverend John is the University’s 17th presiding President.
They also unintentionally made a political statement through the gesture:
The couple said that they had been mulling over the idea for the past year and a half and they did not want to make a political statement through it; but the timing in America for the gesture has been such, with Trump’s victory and subsequent happenings, that it is now illuminated in a political light as well.
They hope to bridge gaps between different religions through this gesture and we certainly appreciate them doing so. They wanted to leave behind a legacy and they have done that through this gift of generosity to the world of knowledge.