A wealthy American Muslim couple have made a staggering donation to a well-known Catholic university.
Pakistani-American couple Rafat and Zoreen Ansari have announced that they will be donating $15 million to the University of Notre Dame.
As reported in The New York Times, the Ansari’s have donated the money so that the University can establish an institute in their name, to carry out the mission of spreading knowledge and acceptance of other faiths.
The Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement With Religion will ‘deepen knowledge of religion and look to explain how the traditions and practice of various religions influence world events‘.
Born in Pakistan, the Ansaris are both medical doctors who have lived in the USA for four decades. They told the paper:
“We came as immigrants, and this country has given us so much. We want to give something back to America, but also to humanity. We want to promote the idea of equality.”
“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 the Reverend John I. Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame. “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 donation has been in development for over 18 months and the Ansari family have stated that it is not a politically motivated action. They have explained that it is understanding and togetherness which remains at the forefront of their motives. A chance to create a more educated and understanding community.
“In the last couple of years, the majority of problems have been created by the misunderstandings among the religions,” said Rafat, who works as an oncologist and haematologist. “Is this the right time for the announcement? Yes, because there is so much going on.”
The Ansari’s are not billionaires, and so this was no small gesture on their part. The money will be donated in increments over the course of their lifetime. With the assistance of their daughter, who works in the legal sector, and a team of advisers, a solid plan was drafted to ensure that the donation would be handled appropriately.