Inside the $15 Million Donation from Muslim Philanthropists

Author: O'Neil, Alison

Inside the $15 Million Donation from Muslim PhilanthropistsThe Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion opens in fall 2017. Photo courtesy of the University of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame enjoys worldwide renown for its study and practice of Catholicism. The university prides itself on its emphasis of Catholic social teaching and its real-world applications. Now, Rafat and Zoreen Ansari — Pakistani, Muslim philanthropists and physicians who live in Granger, Indiana — have donated $15 million to the university to encourage the study of other religions’ scope and impact. The Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion, whose opening is set for fall 2017, will be housed within the Keough School of Global Affairs.

According to Vice President for University Relations Lou Nanni, “The Ansari family is best known in South Bend for decades of bringing hope to neighbors facing cancer or comfort to families seeking support for a loved one with autism. When Rafat and Zoreen shared with us their wish to put Notre Dame at the center of efforts to understand how the world’s religions provide that same hope and comfort to the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed, we were deeply moved.”

“[The Ansaris’] confidence in Notre Dame’s reverence for the sacred and excellence in the study of religion makes their gift more than an endorsement of our current work; it is both a challenge and a means to think more expansively, to engage more deeply and to serve more humbly,” says Nanni. “Our commitment to Rafat, Zoreen and family is to ensure that the Ansari Institute’s work and the students it sends forth will be their gift not only to Notre Dame but to a world deeply in need.”