"What is your real name?" Mike Ghouse, that is my real name.
Ever since I stepped onto this soil, the American soil, there is not a week that has passed without being asked, “What is your real name” and I say, “It is Ghouse; Mike Mohamed Ghouse” and I have been uttering this sentence for the last 34 years.
Added: 5/24/15 : A handful of right leaning Muslims and right leaning Hindus who hate the idea of Pluralism cook up stories about me without knowing a thing – all they have to do is ask or Google. There are three funny and serious stories about the name.
First of all, the name "Mike" is not copyrighted or patented; it is a
name like any other name for anyone to have. Secondly, for the purpose of
clarification, the name "Mike" or "Michael" has been in
India much before it was adopted in Europe. And those few Muslims who
ask, I have the answers for them in this essay. There was a right wing Muslim who questioned
the Aligarh Muslim University for listing me as a high profile speaker, and I shared
this article with him but he did not get it, he still called me
names for choosing “Mike.” Another prominent right wing Muslim wrote extensively about me decrying that I chose the name to kiss-ass the white people.
Two of the right
wing Hindus wrote that I am deceiving the Americans with the name by pretending to be a Christian. None of them had visited my website, I am from Bangalore but they were quoting Mumbai or Hyderabad and one even wrote I was from Cochin. It amazes me how petty these men are. I am glad to hear them, it keeps me on my toes. I am pleased to announce that I belong to the whole world. I have no barriers between me and another soul. Two of the right
wing Hindus wrote that I am deceiving the Americans with the name by pretending to be a Christian. None of them had visited my website, I am from Bangalore but they were quoting Mumbai or Hyderabad and one even wrote I was from Cochin. It amazes me how petty these men are. I am glad to hear them, it keeps me on my toes. I am pleased to announce that I belong to the whole world. I have no barriers between me and another soul.
My birth name is Mohamed Ghouse and Sardar is my alias name, the name which my family and a few close friends call me, and it is a
tradition in Bangalore for my generation to have an alias name. My chosen legal name is Mike Mohamed Ghouse. Mr.
Everett Blauvelt managed the Uthmaniya site and I was in touch with him every
day. In December 1977, my father Mohamed Abdul
Rahman passed away in India. It affected me deeply as I did not have the full satisfaction of serving him. I wanted to take care
of him but he had always said, he will earn his livelihood till his
last breath, great man did it as he said he will do. He did not receive my paycheck that was to
go for his personal use as he had agreed (In Indian tradition, the men and women give the entire paycheck to family). I took care of my family for several years after his death, but was not able to serve him personally as I had wanted to, that left a vacuum to serve in my life.
Here comes Everett Blauvelt, more or less filling my need for a father
figure. He was there for me and
regularly inquired about my Mother and my family back home. We became friends,
and on holidays we went shopping, and went eating in different restaurants in Khobar and Dammam. Now addressing my Muslim friends: When God offered a choice to Adam and explained the consequence of eating the fruit and not eating, Adam chose to eat and he had to be expelled as agreed. The angels argued with God that it was not fair, he could have slapped Adam and stopped him from eating and the expulsion would not have happened. God said, look, I am the God and did offer choice to Adam, and he chose what worked for him. I am the God, if I don't honor my own word, who will? Then he ordered the angels to upload "free will" into the DNA of all humans. When you hear that freedom and liberty are the inalienable rights, that is what it meant in Quran and in our constitution. By the way Islam is not a new religion, it never claimed to be one. Islam has clearly asserted that it is an extension of what was in practice before. Jesus and all others religious head had similar experience of taking one step further from what was practiced before. However, a small percentage of their followers become fanatics and compelled others
to change their faith, and now Hindus are doing the same thing forcing people to change or preventing them from changing. I continue to condemn conversion by force, it is wrong to to force any one to believe
against his or her will. Muhammad is my mentor
Muhammad (pbuh) received revelations about oneness of God, and commonness of
humanity despite the differences. He understood that very well when he recited
God’s words (Quran 49:13) that we were born to a single couple and made into different tribes, communities,
nations and faiths, and with that uniqueness conflicts are bound to happen and
the way to move ahead is to know each other, when we know each other myths disappear, conflicts fade
and solutions emerge. It was a time period when an individual's greed and his
drive to control the resources, wealth and women turned him into pitting his
version of God against the other's.
The idea of oneness was the first step towards building a cohesive society, and
subscribing to the idea in one ultimate God that was common to all. What a relief it was, it freed them from the blame games and mitigated the mundane conflicts. The wisdom was a panacea to the conflicts among people.
Each merchant in Mecca, a trading center then had his own Icon representing
“his” values, and when the conflicts arose between two merchants, it was their
“personal God-Icon” who rescued or won them their battle in business. The
conflicts remained a daily routine, sort of the Wild West in America about 200
Subscribing to one common God, with all the non-conflicting attributes packed into one, an abstract idea of God which everyone could relate
with was the need of the day. The idea of oneness
of God and oneness of humanity was a source of healing and bringing unity with
the given diversity. In his last sermon
he delivered one of the best equality statements – that no human is superior or
inferior to the other, the words are almost identical to our immortal
declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal.
Muhammad revealed this to his family and friends, and they started seeing the
value in the conflictlessness of "Your God" versus "My God"
and moving on to "our God" - a common denominator God. Thus the word subscribing to the idea of
one supreme* God came into being, the Arabic word for submission for peace was
"Islam" and the one who submits to the idea of oneness, and
conflictlessness was a Muslim, a submitter to harmony.
Hold it my friends, you will not go to the same church, synagogue, mosque or a temple,
if you don’t like the environment or the sermons, you go where you are
comfortable, and you choose what suits you. Islam suits me well, I fit right
into it. Not the Islam you hear on Fox, but the pristine Islam that was created
by Muhammad and not visible to you, which the majority of Muslims silently practice. It is here live and active, please go to www.WorldMuslimCongress.com and
you see that Pristine Islam. List of my mentors; Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, Mahatma Gandhi, Maimonides, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, my father Abdul Rahman and mother Khairun Nisa. And among the living mentors; Pope Frances, Barack Obama and Aga Khan. (Latest update: Dali Lama is dropped- as he did not say a word about his fellow Buddhists massacring their fellow country men in Burma - I need to study more to add back). Name Bias in Melbourne The entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque was
guarded heavily and Israel had banned the entry for non-Muslims, as a nut case
fanatic Jew had opened the fire on praying Muslims on a Friday, and had killed
over two dozen worshippers. So the inquisition began and I went thru the grill
of proving the Israeli soldier that I was a Muslim, (they assumed I was a Christian for my name) and he finally asked me to
recite the Shahadah (Muslim pledge) and told me to move, and on that very
precise moment, I heard a loud gunshot and reflexively balked, "what
OMG, he pulled me over again, and asked with piercing eyes, are you
really a Muslim? I said, hell yes. He asked why did you ask about the Gunshot,
and I said, I wanted to know what that was? He repeated, you are a Muslim? He
pulls over the Palestinian Guard who asks me to repeat the process and
additionally asks me to recite another small chapter, Sura Ikhlas and proceeds
to ask more questions while the Israeli guard looks on.
At that moment I was frustrated enough and entertained the thought of pulling
my pants down to show him that I was a Muslim… thank God for the interruption
from the Dutch Imam ahead of me, who said let’s go, that held my funny
thoughts back.. I realized that the Jewish and Muslim Men have the same
thing in their pants and I recall that this method was shamelessly used to
identify Jews and Muslim alike during massacres.
Any way I recited the Sura’s and was let go. But I did not want to go without
finding about that sound... that they did not even bat an eye for it… they
laughed and told me that it was to mark the end of Sahri/ Suhoor time (early
dawn meal in Ramadan) that I was not familiar with. My Journey in to Islam In the mid 1990's, when Islam was attacked by everyone on TV and Radio, as usual I
was randomly flipping pages in different holy books to see what I get to
read. I flipped a page in Bhagvad Gita,
and it read "finding the truth is one’s own responsibility". That turned
my life around, and I went about seeking the truth and realized the false
translations of Quran as enumerated above… and started digging and searching
for truth - almost everything in the market about Islam was false, I
deliberated about it, and researched if Islam suited me, and fits my
pluralistic inclinations... to respect all of God's religions and creation.. And
Islam did that for me, and I chose to become a Muslim, several of my friends
called me crazy that I chose to call myself a Muslim around 9/11, so be it.
Truth stands on its own. What about Other Religions? Let me assert this very clearly - a statement that I made upon receiving the "Religious communicator of the year" award by Religious writers association. My religion works for me as other's religions work for others and I will never claim my religion to be superior or inferior to any. Claiming superiority of your religion is arrogance which destroys relationships between individuals, families, communities and nations, where as every religion is designed to bring humility in the individuals which builds relationships. As a Muslim I have challenged fellow Muslims, and as a religious person, I will challenge other religious followers to show where they can claim superiority, other than the circular logic. Quran is clear - God loves people who forgive and who are humble, and does not favor those who are arrogant. I could have chosen any faith, and all faiths are equally dear to me. None is superior or inferior, it is what you know and what suits you. Islam suits me as I align with it. Islam is about free will, justice, humility and dignity to all of God's creation - life and environment. I define religion as a system that guides one to live in balance with himself or herself and how to live with others in harmony. Dr. Shaykh Rashid Gannouchi emphasizes, " The role of religion is to answer the big questions for us, those relating to our existence, origins, destiny, and the purpose for which we were created, and to provide us with a system of values and principles that would guide our thinking, behavior, and the regulations to which we aspire." He adds, "Islam is a religion of civilization" which he suggests elsewhere is the essence and purpose of every world religion.
I was in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from
1977-1980 with Fluor Corporation, and at one time, I was the Deputy Controller of Finance and worked directly for Pat Waugh, the big man. I was the Chief for Banking and Cash
Operations and managed the operations of 5 sites – Ras Tanura, Shedgum,
Uthmaniya, Jubail and Dhahran North, Yanbu was added later.
Mr. Blauvelt started calling me "Mike" way back in Saudi Arabia much
before I came to the states. Since then, "Mike" has become a part of
my name to honor our friendship. He is a
father figure to me and is the one who sponsored and goaded me to come to
the United States. (Old writing: Thank
God, he will be 96 in January 2012.) He
passed away at the age of 97 on April 13, 2013. I had promised him that on his 100th
birthday, I will ask Sean Hannity to give him a call; he was a fan of Hannity. I may do something in 2016 on his birthday, when he would have
That’s how I got the name Mike, and upon my citizenship confirmation, it became my full legal name "Mike Mohamed Ghouse." I
wouldn’t want to be called anything but Mike. My mother wrote me letters with
that name and that is all I wanted and that's my authorization, and I don’t care what anyone says. That’s
how my name will be inscribed on my head stone with a phrase – “Died with Prejudice
towards none”, that is if I don’t get scattered in the air with a plane
crash. Every day, I make an effort to
live without bias.
I would like to remind my Muslim friends that the name Muhammad was given
to the Prophet. He was born into a Pagan family (Pagan is not and should
not be a derogatory term- it is an identity), and at the age of 40, after
pondering about life, religion, God, human suffering and the poverty, just as
the Buddha did, Muhammad (pbuh) received revelations and enlightenment about oneness of God, and
commonness of humanity despite the differences. Once he became aware that he was preaching a new idea to build cohesive societies, he did not change his name, it remained Muhammad.
There is no such thing as a Muslim name, names are names, it is a different story
that you want to name your kids from the people you admire and live amongst.
But it is not mandatory in Islam.
There was no need to change any one's name. The big names in Islam like Khadija
(prophet's wife), Abu Bakr Siddique (1st caliph), Umar bin Khattab (2nd caliph), Uthman bin Affan (3rd Caliph), Ali bin Talib (cousin and the final righteous caliph), Fatima (daughter), and others were their given names at birth as pagans, and
when they became Muslims. They were not required to change their names, and
neither the name of the prophet was changed; it remained Muhammad.
Indeed, there never was a requirement to change any one's given name. Not only
that when the Arabs moved to the east in Iran or west into Egypt, the people of
those lands were asked to consider the new value of oneness of God and its
benefits that came to them, Islam never asked anyone to change their names or
culture, as the faith was distinct from culture.
Prophet Muhammad believed in freedom of faith, and revealed God’s words – that there
is no compulsion in faith (Quran 2:256) and he lived by his words. His Uncle Abu Talib remained a Pagan till his
death, Muhammad with all the power he had, did not compel his uncle to change his belief,
it was an example set to the world that there is no compulsion in faith and the example was to reaffirm that value.
The idea of a Hindu name, Muslim name, Christian name, Buddhist name or a
Jewish name is a myth but has become a part of our culture and it works for ALL
of us. I would rather call it a cultural name; names that you are familiar with
than a religious name. You read the stories of great men and women who went out
of their way to save the world, and as a part of the admiration you name your
kids with your favorite hero or heroine.
America is a genuine mosaic of God's creation, it is indeed God's own country, here people have no qualms
in naming their children, and they are not hung up with names. Within the next two generations it will be difficult to identify a person's religion by his or her name. Welcome to America, the land of the free and the brave.
So my name is Mike Ghouse, Mike Mohamed
suited me well, I did not want a religion, but needed one. Islam teaches about building cohesive societies, respecting the otherness of others, freedom of speech and faith, justice, mercy,
humility and treating, feeling and believing all as equals. I chose to become a Muslim in the late 90’s. More about it in my journey into Islam below.
December 2009, I gave a presentation on scriptural reading of Quran in
Melbourne, Australia at the Parliaments of World’s religions. The room was
packed and there were two full rows of clergy from Iran and Saudi Arabia. What
inspired them to attend? They were curios to see what a “Christian” was going
to teach about Quran (they assumed I was a Christian from my name). I am glad they came and appreciated learning about the
deliberate mis-translations and misinterpretations of Quran and the solutions. Steve
Blow of Dallas Morning News, writes, "In the middle Ages, European
leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against
Muslim invaders.Later, Muslim
leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and
Jews." I reached my pinnacle of understanding Islam, when I organized, conducted and successfully managed the www.QuraanConference.com Name Bias in Jerusalem
In August 2010, I was in Jerusalem with
the Middle East Peace Initiative, and it was a delight to pray at the Al-Aqsa
Mosque which fulfilled my desire to pray in all the three holy sanctuaries of
Islam and I have prayed in the mosque of every Muslim denomination as well.
I was born and raised as a Muslim, but
around the late sixties, witnessing the hatred and the riots in India among
people of different faiths, I blamed the religions for it and had become an
Atheist and remained one till the late 90's, but not a belligerent Atheist who
hates God and religions, but a pluralist who respected all religions but did
not choose one for himself. Indeed, I
went to the Hindu Temple across my home in Yelahanka on Saturday Nights to
chant Bhajans, on Fridays, I went to different Mosques (that I still do) and on
Thursdays I went to Mahabodhi society. Learned about Sikhism through my customers at the Flour Mill and Christianity and Jainism through my neighbors. Dr. Abraham Kovoor was whom I followed, he is the father of modern Atheism.
My political affiliation
By the way, I am a Republican (Update - as of October 30, 2014, I am Republican No More - http://centerforamericanpolitics.blogspot.com/2014/10/republican-no-more-i-have-gone.html ) and am notembarrassedabout
being one, even though none of the current Republican Party leaders are
Republicans in its truest sense, some of its leaders are hate mongers and war
mongers. The majority of Republicans are like the majority of Muslims, honest
good people but have allowed the radicals to dictate what the party stands for;
hate malice, falsities and division, it’s a shame on us Republicans. In Islam
their numbers are dwindling in a hurry and hope it happens with my political party
as well ( I am not a Republican anymore, let that be clear).
Center for Pluralism is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 (as Foundation for Pluralism). It is based on a simple principle; the more we know about each other, fewer the misunderstandings would be.
CFP is committed to vigorously promoting and advancing pluralism in the realm of religion, politics, social and cultural aspects of life. We have published over 3500 articles on promoting harmony and reconciliation, appeared on 300 national TV shows, addressed in 700 national Radio talk shows and produced hundreds of programs. We need your wisdom, wealth and work to continue this work.
CFP will continue to focus its energies on ensuring a safe and secure America for all, where no one has to worry about his race, faith, ethnicity or other God-given uniqueness and live her life without apprehensions.
Our programs are designed to prevent chaos and maintain coherence and stability with the ongoing changes. We need to prepare the next generation to cope with these changes and minimize potential conflicts with ease. No American needs to worry about losing his or her way of life. As Americans we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our Constitution.
The Center for Pluralism has established over 20 annual programs to bring Americans together on religious, social, political and cultural aspects of life. The more we know each other, the less conflicts we would have. Please review our programs and except the Religious workshops and Unity Day all other programs can be run as your sponsorship for $5,000/year, but you can contribute any sum that is in your budget. Please review them in this mini-Brochure at – http://centerforpluralism.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/4.-CPF-Programs-4-Pages.pdf
CFP will be an antidote to Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Racism, Homophobia, Hindu phobia, Xenophobia, Misogyny and other phobias. Through research and activism we are establishing a respectful space for Pluralism with the policy makers, interfaith groups, both Republicans and Democrats and of course the media and you!
The Center for Pluralism will become the energy to give a solid cohesive social structure to our nation. By the year 2025, there will not be an office, school, playground, college, restaurant, theater, train, bus or a work place where people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and national origins do not work, interact, play, live and marry together. This is bound to create conflicts in airports, public spaces, board rooms, and in bedrooms as well as places of worship, work places, politics, eateries, and schools.
We have a responsibility to shape the future of our society so our kids, grand kids and us can retire in peace and live without apprehensions.
Mike's Short Bio
Mike Mohamed Ghouse is committed to his life mission of building
cohesive work places, communities and nations. He works for an America where every
one of the 322 million Americans should feel secure without apprehension or
fear of the other.
He is one of the 5 people in the world who is actively pursuing research,
activism and teaching Pluralism. Just
Google and find a tremendous amount of work on
pluralism in religion, politics, society and culture. Mike defines Pluralism as an attitude of “respecting
the otherness of other” and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of
He is a pluralist, thinker, writer, activist and a speaker on
Pluralism, Interfaith, politics, Islam, human rights and foreign policy
including India and Israel-Palestine. He is a news maker, interfaith wedding
officiant and a community consultant and offers pluralistic solutions on issues
of the day.
Dr. Ghouse has appeared in over 300 national TV and 700 Radio
shows including 125 on Fox News and 200 on Fox’s national syndicated radio. He
has published over 3500 articles on the topics he speaks.
His Google profile has been visited by over 35 million individuals
with thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, yahoo groups and
He is the founder and CEO of the Center for Pluralism. The bottom
line to his work is security- no one should feel insecure about his or her religion,
race, ethnicity, or other God-given uniqueness. Each one of us should look
forward to retiring in peace and living without apprehensions or fear of the