"What is your real name?"
The Name is Mike Ghouse
Updated May 20, 2011
There is not a month that has passed without being asked, “What is your real name” and I say it is, Ghouse, Mike Ghouse and I have been doing this for the last 30 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. My birth name is Mohamed Ghouse and Sardar is my alias name. My chosen legal name is Mike Mohamed Ghouse.
at a birthday event
Mr. Everett Blauvelt is a father figure to me and he is the one who sponsored and goaded me to come to the United States. Thank God, he will be 96 in January 2012.
When my father passed away in 1977, Mr. Blauvelt was very kind and was always there to listen to me. He used to call 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 my father like friend Mr. Blauvelt.
I would like to remind my Muslim friends that the name Muhammad was given to the Prophet, when he was born into a Pagan (Pagan is not, and should not be a derogatory term) family. However, at the age of 40, after pondering about life, religion, God, human suffering and the poverty, just as the Buddha did, he received revelations about oneness of God* (commonness of humanity) as a panacea to the conflicts. It was a time period when individual's greed, drive to control the resources, wealth and women turned them into pitting their version of God against the other.
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 freed them from the blame games and mitigated the mundane conflicts.
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 years ago.
Submission to one common God, an abstract idea of God which every one could subscribe was the need of the day. The idea of one God or as it translates oneness of God was a source of healing and bringing unity with the given diversity.
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". 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.
There was no need to change any one's name by accepting the idea of unity in diversity. The big and the first names in Islam like Khadija (prophet's wife), Ali (cousin), Siddique, Umar, Uthman, 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 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.
There is no such thing as a Muslim name, names are names, it is different story that you want to name your kids from the people you admire and live amongst. But it is not mandatory in Islam.
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 us. I would rather call it a cultural name; names that you are familiar with than a religious name.
So my name is Mike Ghouse, Mike Mohamed Ghouse
In December 2009, I gave a presentation on scriptural reading of Quraan 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 Quraan. I am glad they came and appreciated learning about the deliberate mistranslations and misinterpretations of Quraan 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."
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 was that?"
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 recited 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. We did not do that in India.
MY JOURNEY IN 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, like most people, I blamed the religions for it and had become an Atheist and remained one till the last 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.
When Islam was attacked by everyone on TV and Radio, I flipped a page in Bhagvad Gita, and read finding the truth is one’s own responsibility and I went about seeking the truth and realized the false translations of Quraan as enumerated above… and chose to become a Muslim in spirit again, 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 and am not embarrassed about 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 majorities 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.