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Rafat and Zoreen Ansari at home in Granger, Indiana. ─ New York Times
Rafat and Zoreen Ansari at home in Granger, Indiana. ─ New York Times

An American couple of Pakistani origin announced $15 million for the University of Notre Dame to create an institute that will aim to deepen knowledge of religion and seek to explain how the traditions and practice of various faiths influence world events, a New York Times report said.

Rafat and Zoreen Ansari, who moved the US more than four-decades ago, are medical doctors who were born in Pakistan. They spent their lives giving back to the country which gave them their fortune, giving away an estimated $1 million and countless hours to non-profit organisations which focus on children with autism, a condition which affect one of their own children.

After more than a year of deliberation, the Ansari family decided to donate $15 million dollars to develop the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement With Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

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

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

The donation itself is sizeable for both the university and the Ansari family, who consulted their longtime advisers Merrill Lynch to sort out the process of managing the funds. The finances are going to be held as appreciated securities and cash, and would be disbursed gradually over the years.

“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, NYT reported. “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.”

Father Jenkins said the institute would look at religion not through a sociological or political lens, but through one focused on the religions themselves.


Comments (106) Closed



Sallu Bhai Mar 18, 2017 01:51pm

Good gesture. Give back to the community that allowed you to thrive!

Zahid M Malik Mar 18, 2017 01:51pm

Over paid doctors in US...making a fortune.

AHMED Mar 18, 2017 01:50pm

Very good initiative by a Muslim family. Academic research should be encouraged. I hope other Muslims follow.

M. Emad Mar 18, 2017 01:55pm

Notre Dame University run by Catholic fathers. Pakistani-American couple Drs. Rafat and Zoreen Ansari prefer donating $15 million to a Catholic University than Pakistani Madrassa.

syed Mar 18, 2017 01:59pm

Job Done. Name & Place secured in USA

dr.arshad Mar 18, 2017 01:59pm

Reminds me of the man used effectively by Clinton in her campaign. Mr.khizr too had expressed similar sentiments.But the difference is he lost his son.

SID Mar 18, 2017 02:04pm

Good one .

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Mar 18, 2017 02:08pm

Excellent news. Keep it up and hang on tough. May God Almighty bless your and your loved ones. Aameen, Tsum Aameen.

mohammad hussain Mar 18, 2017 02:14pm

A very good step, but perhaps lack intellectual thinking. Their selection of Country, religion and people is short of sincerity to humanity in particular. The foremost logic for charity distribution must look at the state of destitute, suppressed, sufferers, people communities in need to pull towards social mobility and the need to assist society towards understanding and practice religious and human equality. Among the few points mentioned Muslims at large are the biggest suffers in every possible way e.g. poverty, lack to an absence of educational opportunities, health, the desparatly in need of social engineering, extremer suffering under the control and supports of planted corrupt regimes by the west and above all continuation of crusades". The couple made fortunes in the US, they could have created a Muslim organisation to have the final result. But it is their money, they have the right to do. I think they have it For Notre Dame for fame. If so, it is a in the eye of God.

Sajjad kamran Mar 18, 2017 02:19pm

A commendable gesture and a nice way to be in the news.

Doctors in Pakistan too earn a great deal but never think of such gestures.

kush Mar 18, 2017 02:30pm

Trump effect!

Naeem Mar 18, 2017 02:29pm

Earned through insurance cartels and used for tax break and publicity ... see through the act... some steak , more sizzle ... and yes off course, I am jealous!!

ENGR Psycho Mar 18, 2017 02:40pm

Pakistan made them doctors, they dedicated themselves to America and now donate to America. What have they done for their country which needs them much more than America?

Sana Mar 18, 2017 02:48pm

@mohammad hussain so funding research is not a good idea? really this is a capable intelligent couple who want to use THEIR money to fund research on religions Why is it so wrong?

Sana Mar 18, 2017 02:53pm

@ENGR Psycho they lived 40 years in US US is their country they have done a lot for THEIR country- the US

Raheel Ahemd Mar 18, 2017 03:08pm

The big round of applause by Mr & Mrs. Rahat they where proved it that the biggest relation of among people is HUMANITY.

Xyz Mar 18, 2017 03:09pm

It's good to represent the positive face of Muslims in US,

Arshad, Canada Mar 18, 2017 03:12pm

A Good deed which will pay off in the short and long run. More Muslims should donate as the Jewish people do.

M.Saeed Mar 18, 2017 03:15pm

Another case of Pakistani origin Americans making their two countries proud.

M.Saeed Mar 18, 2017 03:16pm

@ENGR Psycho: You only care the pasture that gives you green.

Sohail Wazir Mar 18, 2017 03:23pm

Again and again a Pakistani. No one can beat or isolate this nation in any field. Keep it up Pakistanio.

Ragu Mar 18, 2017 03:26pm

Nobel humans; they set high standards for the rest of us to follow.

Mubashir Munir Mar 18, 2017 03:34pm

very good

®pot_belly dancer ω Mar 18, 2017 03:42pm

@ENGR Psycho The question that needs to be asked is.. What have YOU done for ur country. Start with introspecting ourselves !!

OSAMA Idrees Mar 18, 2017 03:47pm

@Naeem good one Naeem

asad Mar 18, 2017 03:47pm

These donation should had been given to the kids of Afghanistan, Iraq and syria who are made to the life of orphan because their parents were killed in Carpet bombing of USA.

Usman Mar 18, 2017 03:55pm

@Zahid M Malik Such a hater. No one is stopping you from doing the same. Stop whining about people who have accomplished something.

Usman Mar 18, 2017 03:59pm

@asad Typical keyboard warrior. What have you done for those children except criticize how a person spends their legitimate income.

Why don't you sell the devices you are typing this on to help those children in need?

Usman Mar 18, 2017 03:59pm

@M. Emad Judging by the vile teachings in most madrassas I would have done the same, did you even bother reading what cause they donated to before coming here to spam hate?

Saifuddin Takhtawala Mar 18, 2017 04:35pm

Well done Rafat and Zoreen Ansari! Always shine higher and brighter.

Sajjad Ali Mar 18, 2017 04:44pm

Good.

Sajjad Ali Mar 18, 2017 04:47pm

Not going to help the gentleman in any way. What is meaning of $15 million in US? Burger for few people in the evening? Poor guy, he could have helped poor Pakistanis back home.

Indian Mar 18, 2017 04:55pm

@ENGR Psycho

What have they done for their country which needs them much more than America?

They are creating GOODWILL for Pakistan and Pakistanis. They are trying to build good image of Pakistan

Concerned Pakistani Mar 18, 2017 05:02pm

@ENGR Psycho Just check the numbers of doctors killed in recent years and you will know the reason for them to migrate.

Rifhat Khan Mar 18, 2017 05:23pm

Edhi could have been helped with such a large donation saving thousands of orphans in Pakistan and it is a non political organisation but where would the "fame and status" be in that?

Farid Lodhi Mar 18, 2017 05:31pm

Everyone must to do good things at every moment.

Zia RehmaN Mar 18, 2017 05:36pm

@M. Emad I suppose that the money has not been given to religious university but not for propagation of any religious. Rather it seems that the donation has been given to promote religions harmony and better understanding of religions and beliefs including but not limited to Islamic religious beliefs

naghman qureshi Mar 18, 2017 05:37pm

@AHMED by a pakistani family.finally someone has done agood thing as a pakistani

naghman qureshi Mar 18, 2017 05:38pm

finally someone has done a good thing as a pakistani american and not as a muslim american

J. Gamble Mar 18, 2017 05:42pm

Well, $15M is a lot of money, and certainly they have a big heart to give it to Notre Dame. A donation of this size will go a long way to help Americans understand Islam better in a positive way. Had they chosen to give this money to a Pakistani institution, chances are it would be abused most part. Further, they would have got hefty tax break , and why not. they deserve it.

Iftikhar Husain Mar 18, 2017 06:28pm

Good news for Pakistan.

Asad farid Mar 18, 2017 06:26pm

Negatively dissecting a good gesture displays the malice on part of the person or group of persons doing the dissection. Without a doubt this donation is an admirable act and should be appreciated. Let us all make effort to follow the example

Tariq jamshaid Mar 18, 2017 06:35pm

Forget about that he was born in Pakistan he is an American now otherwise he should have realized poor Pakistanis are in dire need lot more than Americans

Sameer Mar 18, 2017 06:32pm

This is indeed a beautiful gesture...heartwarming and pleasing bundled in tolerance and patriotism for ones motherland. Affluent Pakistanis here with bank acccounts abroad should learn from this. To whom much is given...much is expected.

J. Gamble Mar 18, 2017 06:39pm

@Asad farid -You got that right. I salute this couple for their kindness.

J. Gamble Mar 18, 2017 06:47pm

@Tariq jamshaid -Why did they choose to donate this kind of money to an American University? Countries like India and Pakistan are not set up to receive such donations. There is no transparency, there is no integrity. I'm sure 80% of the money would be abused, so it is not going to benefit Pakistani's poor. Drinking water is contaminated, there is no hygiene in street food. Police demand money for registration of FIR.

Alba Mar 18, 2017 07:29pm

"Rafat, an oncologist and hematologist...." Specialty - leukemia and lymphoma. Cancers of the blood and the lymphatic system.

Mani Mar 18, 2017 07:32pm

Mr. Trump these are immigrants from a Muslim country.

Masood Mar 18, 2017 07:42pm

Even then they will hate you, discriminate you, and attack you.

S.A.Hyder, PH.d. Mar 18, 2017 07:48pm

@M. Emad: Is Saudi Arabia not donating enough to the Madrassahs? They get $15 million a day from the Saudis. $15 million over years would be pocket change for them.

Ajaya K Dutt Mar 18, 2017 08:04pm

What a pleasure to hear this good news.

Thanks to Dawn for publishing it. Made my day.

Shahbaz Omar khan Mar 18, 2017 08:41pm

Great ambassadors for Pakistan. Thank you. God bless.

Sami Mar 18, 2017 09:14pm

@mohammad hussain -- you express a very myopic view of this gesture. Think man!!! They are putting their money to promote harmony between religions.

Vin Mar 18, 2017 09:38pm

That's Beautiful. Great Gesture

hasrat Mar 18, 2017 09:53pm

Congratulations on picking the right cause and venue to put your hard earned money.

y name Mar 18, 2017 10:15pm

@Tariq jamshaid :Research and development at Notre Dame may bring good news and meds to Pakistan someday?

J. Gamble Mar 19, 2017 12:19am

@Masood -As long as human race survives, discrimination will not go away. Only such noble and selfless acts could kill this monster.

shahzi Mar 19, 2017 03:52am

@M. Emad...if donated to pakistan..3/4 will be in someone pocket..sorry..don't be selfish...why Pakistani living in Pakistan donate ?

Altaf Ibrahim Mar 19, 2017 04:44am

@Zahid M Malik The couple have worked very hard to be where they are today. Please show some appreciation. How many people in the world today will part with this amount of money!

AG Mar 19, 2017 07:28am

You guys did the right thing, keep it up.

Saeeds Mar 19, 2017 07:42am

People get free education from Pakistan and make fortune in US because of this free education and give credit to US. Without this education you are nothing but minimum wage Cab driver.

DIGGER DOWN UNDER Mar 19, 2017 08:26am

A great contribution by the Ansari family. Investment in research has almost always paid high dividends. In this paticular instance, the dividend is likely to be in the form of better understanding among the US and Pakistani citizens. Further, the stature of Pakistani doctors in the US, which is high, would get a boost. Congratulations to both Zoreen and Rafat Ansari and best wishes for them and their children.

sukhera Mar 19, 2017 08:36am

Any donation for the medical school where he received the MBBS degree in Pakistan?

SDA Mar 19, 2017 08:42am

@M. Emad They did it to safe guard muslims and Islam and to for non-muslims to have a better understanding of the religion. Analyze the motive behind it and not jump into conclusion.

Mohammad Mar 19, 2017 08:45am

They are americans and doing something good for americans and muslim americans. Good job.

MAK Mar 19, 2017 09:14am

There are some excellent people touching the zenith of humanity vs the ones with negative minds, the nadir end of hate & fear

LAHORI KID Mar 19, 2017 09:43am

@ENGR Psycho, Wrong, they made themselves doctors, which requires years of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, America game them opportunity, they did the rest. They are free to do as they please, they do not owe anything to anyone, they certainly don't owe you an explanation. They are doing great work, they are helping people, they are trying to educate everyone about faith, religion and equality. What are you doing?

Raza Mar 19, 2017 09:59am

@mohammad hussain : if you read it, they want to do something for their country and humanity. What is better than education. When are you guys stop viewing things from a religious lenses.

asad Mar 19, 2017 09:56am

Maybe the first Islamic chair in an American academic institution NOT funded by the Saudi's or any other gulf states.Kudos to the couple.

khakanbabar Mar 19, 2017 09:59am

@ENGR Psycho Ask yourself the question, why do people leave Pakistan. Prime Minister Gilani was asked on British TV interview. "Why are Pakistanis leaving Pakistn in great numbers" You know what his response was . Let them leave.

No one has to explain to you what they have done for Pakistan. Even if someone does something , you would not know.

Khaled Mar 19, 2017 10:24am

That is great.

Khaled Mar 19, 2017 10:28am

"Among the few points mentioned Muslims at large are the biggest suffers" if they are suffering its because of their own follies.

Israr Mar 19, 2017 10:43am

They have forgotten their origin.

syed hamza hussain zahid Mar 19, 2017 10:48am

my sister is suffering from a heart problem and her treatment is impossible in pakistan and only possible at UK USA and Canada and which cost about Rs 1.5 billion and which is out of our financial reach so through this source i request you that please help us to save the life of my sister we will be highly thank full to you

Sekhar Mar 19, 2017 11:05am

What a waste? Why not donate this 15 USD million to IBA or LUMS and make it world class?

KAZIM REZA Mar 19, 2017 11:14am

Congratulation! The Notre Dam Authority has been running the best college in Bangladesh since the united Pakistan days and recently opened an university at not so wide college campus.

Cricket-One Mar 19, 2017 11:47am

@Zahid M Malik Making a huge fortune, and don't know, what to do with it.

DieHard Mar 19, 2017 01:54pm

Hope Mr. And Mrs. Ansari also donate some of their wealth to poors of pakistani who are really in need of this donation.

Sugarush Mar 19, 2017 02:11pm

Again with the same old comments - why did they donate there and not here. Some people need to understand that its the money they earned and their wish to see where it goes. We must respect their efforts.

Andaleeb Zuberi Mar 19, 2017 02:21pm

Very generous, magnanimous, very Nobel. It would ,however , have been better had it been spent on using it for underprivileged. Maybe setting up homes, shelters or schools for the underprivileged.

Ahmed Mar 19, 2017 02:18pm

Great work....

Jibboo Mar 19, 2017 02:44pm

Great Gesture!

Vilas Mar 19, 2017 04:44pm

@AHMED What did you do?

Sana Mar 19, 2017 05:55pm

@DieHard Pakistan is always going to be "in need" as you said one of the things people need to understand is that research is very important part of growth and development maybe difficult for you to understand

M Y Mar 19, 2017 08:15pm

@Sana ; Excellent , the need of the time! you stole my words - I have nothing to say except congratulate you!!

Mukhtar khan Mar 19, 2017 08:37pm

This is first of its kind. Hope more of such follows.

Kaspar Mar 19, 2017 08:48pm

One wonders where they graduated from. If from Pakistan, and then moved to the US, where they made their fortune, the country having a prior right on their charitable instincts, is the country that gave them the education that enabled them to move to the US, where the medical associations are notorious for keeping the number of doctors small, so they can mint money. The doctors in America are overworked and overpaid as a consequence. Then there are the scams involving the health insurance industry, which results in unnecessary tests, unnecessary operations etc. The exploitative pharmaceutical industry, with whom the doctors work hand in glove, completes the picture. How else could a doctor couple earn enough to donate $15 million from their practice. And the cause they have given their money for is a non-starter from scratch.

Ahmed Mar 19, 2017 10:17pm

What about the hapless Poverty stricken pakistani's. It's your right to donate your earning and I dont care where or whom you give it to, but do remember majority of these doctor living abroad and earning millions, paid literally peanuts to medical universities in Pakistan to get their degrees. We all know that students of good government owned medical universities in Pakistan eventually leave the country to earn a fortune, but pay paltry sums to acquire subsidised education

Umar KHITAB Mar 19, 2017 10:37pm

Humanity at best. And for those who are criticizing them, what if the couple already has or would donate in the future for their erstwhile homeland? Relax and appreciate a kind gesture.

Jenney Laura Mar 20, 2017 01:35am

That is really commendable; and perhaps the first time that I have heard in my very long life; that a Muslim couple has done such a wonderful job; and that too; for a "Dhimmie" a Christian. How I wish there were a lot more Muslims; especially acknowledging what a tremendous job he Christian Edcucationilst have done in Pakistan; where a majority of Judges; Generals and Doctors have received their Degrees from. God bless you two. Have no doubt your will be blessed by the Almighty.

farhan Mar 20, 2017 05:33am

@M. Emad dont blame them.

Ramd Mar 20, 2017 08:45am

What and where they donate is their business...after all they made the money there...

jameel Mar 20, 2017 09:56am

why are they investing in the USA? imo they should have invested 50% inPakistam.

Cricket-One Mar 20, 2017 11:07am

@Concerned Pakistani ---- As if no one else was killed.

Viking Star Mar 20, 2017 12:28pm

Great gesture but would have been even great if the Ansari's allocated a portion of this money for "research" of cancer in Pakistan - from the university that made them doctors (in the first place). Yes, its a fact that America offered them chances to prosper and grow but Pakistan made them doctors (that too almost free of cost).

Mahmud Mar 20, 2017 01:05pm

@mohammad hussain : I am sure the Ansaris are also contributing to other charities for under privileged people. This gesture is a good one to develop better understanding between all religions and faiths. Religious ignorance leads to extremism and fanaticism. A better standing is the need of the time. Good job Drs Ansari.

vikas Mar 20, 2017 01:10pm

Should have given a gift to Pakistan. It needs it more. 15 million USD is a lot of money for Pakistan's economy.

Love Your Country Mar 20, 2017 03:12pm

Poor people deserve it more than uni research. I hope they have given at least the same amount to their poor relatives back home and around them (lot of poor sleeping rough in US too).

Samia munawar Mar 20, 2017 03:59pm

Great work, can't wait to read the first research paper.

Simba Mar 20, 2017 04:05pm

what is intriguing is that they prefer to donate the funds for religious study, rather than science and technology - something that can change the lives of millions in the 3rd world?!

sukhera Mar 20, 2017 04:09pm

@mohammad hussain. its costs almost a million dollar to get a MD degree in USA. Some Pakistani medical schools are the best in the world and Pakistani educated doctors send their kids back to Pakistan for a medical degree. The reason is, it does not not even cost a few thousand dollars to earn a degree in Pakistan. Its almost free. Lot of Pakistani have established hospitals in Pakistan where the they provide free medical care for the needy. A group of doctors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (USA) are running a hospital in Okara (Punjab) and donate millions every year.At least they are giving something back to the country which provided them free education. American Universities especially run by the Catholic Charities have tremendous resources and they also receive funds from the govt. Lot of Govt run hospitals in Pakistan lack modern diagnostic equipment and qualified doctors. A large donation like this would have gone a long way to help the people of Pakistan.Only God knows the intention.

Adnan 2 Mar 20, 2017 06:01pm

@sukhera Your comment is perfect. Beautiful

Sukhera Mar 20, 2017 06:37pm

@ENGR Psycho. Some Pakistani doctors are doing a lot to help the needy in Pakistan. GOVT run hospitals lack modern equipment and the hospitals don,t have proper medcications. Most hospitals don,t even have defibilator which cost around 1,000 dollars but save lives in case of a hear attack.

ENGR Psycho Mar 21, 2017 12:16am

@Sukhera well said. I wish these doctors also had have your sense.

Adnan 2 Mar 21, 2017 02:00am

Charity begin at home.

Ahmad zubair Mar 21, 2017 03:57am

Ansaris have kept the tradition of Helping Others.