Rafat and Zoreen Ansari are not extraordinarily wealthy, but they are both physicians earning good salaries, and have lived modestly during full careers in a suburb of South Bend, Indiana. And they are grateful for the opportunities they have enjoyed in America after leaving Pakistan. “We came as immigrants, and this country has given us so much,” said Mrs. Ansari.
After mulling ways they could share their good fortune in lasting ways, the Muslim donors announced they would give $15 million to the Catholic university nearby, Notre Dame, to create an institute where the religious traditions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and other faiths can be studied, with an eye toward their interactions and their influence on behavior, changes in culture, and world events. Notre Dame president John Jenkins says the institute will focus on the human effects of the religions, rather than viewing them through a political or social lens.
Mr. Ansari told the New York Times that this money would have gone to their children, but after explaining they wanted to leave a positive legacy to their adopted nation and to all people, their daughters and son were supportive. “It’s better to do something good with this. It’s better to give it,” said daughter Sarah Ansari.