Ansari Institute and Religions for Peace Announce Strategic Partnership

Author: Josh Stowe

The Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion is partnering with Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious movement advancing common action for peace.

The partnership will allow the two organizations to work together on joint educational initiatives, collaborate on projects designed to advance understanding of interreligious work, and research multi-religious collaborative programs on human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development at various country levels.

The partnership, which will be formally announced at the institute’s upcoming Nasr Book Prize Symposium, is a natural move for both organizations. Religions for Peace has a rich history of fostering interreligious dialogue and engaging with different traditions to foster peace, and the Ansari Institute embraces an openness to the wisdom of diverse faith traditions, respectful partnership with local and global actors, and collaborations across disciplines. Both organizations exercise respectful cooperation with local and global actors, and engage in collaborations across disciplines.

Professor Azza Karam, secretary general of Religions for Peace, said the development was welcome news. Karam serves on the Ansari Institute’s Advisory Board, which also provides financial support for an internship program through Religions for Peace. “Our collaborative work can harvest knowledge and practices of multi-religious peace building around the world”, Karam said. 

Mahan Mirza, the Ansari Institute’s executive director, agreed. 

“We are honored to partner with Religions for Peace,” he said. “It is important now more than ever to bring together different voices and to learn from the collective wisdom of the world’s traditions to tackle some of the most pressing challenges confronting us today.”

The partnership will focus on: 

  • Conducting joint initiatives fostering the education of students at the Ansari Institute, the Keough School Global Affairs, and the University of Notre Dame; this will include helping students gain exposure to interreligious work on peace and world affairs, and may include practical training as well as internships at Religions for Peace.
  • Collaboration on projects to advance understanding of interreligious work. This may include investigations and consultations as well as training, strategic exchanges, and joint publications.
  • Researching multi-religious collaborative programs on human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development at various country levels.

Honoring Multifaith Peace Leaders

The two organizations are also partnering to honor three people as Religions for Peace’s Multi-religious Peacemakers. This year’s honorees are: Mr. Abdul Ilah Rafie Marafie, Rev. Kosho Niwano, and Dr. Aruna Oswal. 

Mr. Abdul Ilah Rafie Marafie


Marafie serves as international trustee for Religions for Peace and chief patron trustee for the Marafie Foundation. 

He was born into the Marafie family, one of Kuwait’s ancient merchant families. After secondary school education, he completed studies in business management. In 1975, he joined the family-run business and found time to assist with Marafie Foundation activities. Since his father’s passing in 1976, he has been actively involved in managing the foundation as its chief patron trustee. The foundation has completed approximately 1,000 projects in the Baltistan area of northeast Pakistan consisting of schools, clinics, community centers, and has another 300 projects planned. 

Marafie also associates with many NGOs in Kuwait, including Kuwait Transparency Society, an organization fighting against corruption. Currently, he is the chair of the First Hotels Co. (the owning Company of Radisson SAS Hotel Kuwait) and he also serves as a member of the board of directors of the Marafie Group. 

Reverend Kosho Niwano

Kosho Niwano

Rev. Kosho Niwano serves as co-Moderator and executive committee member of Religions for Peace and president-designate of Rissho Kosei-Kai, a lay Buddhist movement.

She was born in Tokyo as the first daughter of Rissho Kosei-Kai President Nichiko Niwano. After receiving a law degree from Gakushuin University, she studied at Rissho Kosei-kai’s Gakurin seminary. She studies the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and shares them with members who visit the Great Sacred Hall for worship services and special events.

Niwano also promotes interreligious cooperation domestically and internationally in her capacity

as president-designate of Rissho Kosei-kai by attending interfaith congresses. She is a councilor of Shinshuren (Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan), a member of the board of directors of Religions for Peace-Japan, and member of the board of directors for The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue. 

Niwango is the author of a book titled, Kaiso-sama ni naraite (The Buddha in Everyone’s Heart).

Dr. Aruna Oswal 

Aruna Oswal

Dr. Aruna Oswal is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and social activist. 

She serves as co-president and international trustee of Religions for Peace and has served in a variety of other leadership roles, including: chair of the Abhey Oswal Group & Aruna Abhey Oswal Trust; vice president for the World Jain Confederation; and past international Director and trustee for the Lions Clubs International. 

Oswal has received honors from former Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who presented her with the Jain Ratna Award. She has also received numerous honors from Lions Club International. As a leader in that organization, she has overseen numerous fellowship and service projects, including the distribution of more than 1,000 sewing machines for women entrepreneurs.

Contact: Sohaa Khan (Religions for Peace) at or Josh Stowe (Ansari Institute) at