"What is your real name?"
Mike Ghouse, that is my real name.
Since I stepped onto this 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.
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.
Added: 5/24/15 : A handful of Muslims
and 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 was one 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 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.
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.
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.
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 was a big thing for me as I failed to serve 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.
I have not been able to fulfill that desire to serve my father.
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.
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 that name Mike, and it is a part of "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.
NOW ADDRESSING MY MUSLIM FRIENDS;
I would like to remind my Muslim friends that the name Muhammad was given
to the Prophet, when he was born into a Pagan family (Pagan is not and should
not be a derogatory term- it is an identity). However, 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 about oneness of God, and
commonness of humanity despite the differences.
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), Siddique (caliph), Umar (caliph), Uthman (caliph), Ali (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 him to change his belief,
it was an example to set to the world, that was the same with Jesus and others –
but a small percentage of their followers become fanatics and compelled others
to change their faith, and now Hindus are doing the same non-sense. I continue to condemn conversion by force, it is wrong to to force any one to believe
against his or her will. The Prophet was clear on that.
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
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.
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.
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.
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. I am glad they came and appreciated learning about the
deliberate mistranslations 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
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.
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…finally he 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
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.
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.
By the way, I am a Republican (Update - as of October 30, 2014, I chose to be become independent- 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).
A FEW OF MY PROFILES
and goodwill nurturance runs in Mike’s veins, it is the formula of Prophet
Plug in name of
Religion, any religion / or name of festival any festival in Google, there is substantial amount of
work done in every area of humanity.
mike Mike Ghouse, Speaker Motivation |
Pluralism | Human Rights | Religion. (214) 325-1916 text/talk ...............................................................................................................................
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a
commentator on Pluralism, Islam, India, Israel-Palestine, Politics and other
issues of the day. He is a human rights activist, and his book standing up for
others will be out soon | He is producing a full feature film " Sacred" to be released on 9/11
and a documentary "Americans
together" for a July 4 release. He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox
News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including
Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at
www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are
at www.TheGhousediary.com - Mike is
committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on
issues of the day.