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Friday, January 1, 2010

My Name is Mike Ghouse

“What is your real name?”
Mike Ghouse, that is my real name.

Latest pic 1/10/19
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 40 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, the names are cultural, you choose a name because someone in your family relates to that name or likes it because that person is in your folklore. Thirdly, the names are not religious, neither the Quran, Bible, Torah, Gita or any book for that matter provides a list of names for the parents to select. Lastly for my fellow Americans, 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 responded to them in this essay.
Added: 5/24/15:
“A handful of Muslims and Hindus who hate the idea of Pluralism and cook up stories about me without knowing a thing astound me.  All they have to do is ask me 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 Muslim wrote extensively about me decrying that I chose the name to kiss-ass the white people. A right-wing Hindu 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 small these men are.”
Why Mike?
My birth name is Mohamed Ghouse and Sardar is my alias name, the name which my family, a few close friends and my townspeople 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, here is the story of my name.
When i was about 6-7 years old
I was in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from 1977 through 1980 with Fluor Corporation.  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.  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 was a big thing for me, I wanted to take care of him but did not get the opportunity to do that. He had always said, he will earn his livelihood till his last breath, son of a gun, he did. He did not receive my paycheck that was to go for his personal use as he had agreed. I could not fulfill the desire to take care of my father. I wanted him to take rest,  well he did for good.
Here comes Everett Blauvelt, more or less filling a need for my father figure.  He was there for me and regularly inquired about my Mother and my family. We became friends, and on holidays we went shopping and eating in different restaurants in Al-Khobar, Hofuf, 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 he is the one who sponsored and goaded me to come to the United States.
61 Years
That’s how I got the name “Mike” and it is a part of my legal name now. “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 headstone with a phrase – “Died with Prejudice towards none.” Hopefully, It will be in Urdu, Hindi, Kannada and English languages. Every day, I make an effort to live without bias.
Name Bias has its own advantages.
In December 2009, I gave a presentation on a scriptural reading of the 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 curious to see what a “Christian” was going to teach about the Quran. I am glad they came and appreciated learning about the deliberate mistranslations and misinterpretations of the Quran and the solutions.
25 years old in SanDiego
Steve Blow of Dallas Morning News, wrote, “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. Karbala is another place I would like to visit someday to honor the sacrifice of Imam Hussain. I consider Pope Francis as my Imam, he is the real man of God alive. He is also a mercy to mankind.  I have visited Lord Krishna’s birthplace in Mathura as well as Jesus’ Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Walked the place he had walked and stood on the mount beatitude, got baptized in the River Jordan where Jesus was baptized. It was an awesome feeling of renewal. I am a Muslim and will remain one but continue to respect all the great men.
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 through the grill of proving to the Israeli soldier that I was a Muslim. He assumed Mike is not a Muslim’s name, finally, he asked me to recite the Shahadah (Muslim Pledge) and told me to move over, and at that very precise moment, I heard a loud gunshot and reflexively I balked, “What was that?”
40 years old
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, are you a Muslim? He asked why didn’t you say Alhamdu Lillah, I said, it’s not in my vocabulary.  He pulls me over the corner, and the Palestinian Guard 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  realize 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 Muslims alike during massacres.
Any way I recited the Sura and was let go. But I did not want to go without finding what that sound was, upon which they did not even bat an eye… 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.
57 Years old
This is for Muslims: The Name Muhammad (PBUH)
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 poverty, just as the Buddha did, Muhammad (PBUH) received revelations about the oneness of God, and the commonness of humanity despite the differences. He believed we were all from the same first couple placed in different communities, nations and by extension religions.
So, the Prophet announced the message about the accountability of one’s action, the law of karma, and one world and one humanity. The word Muslim simply means a good citizen who takes his responsiblity seriously and works on preserving and restoring harmony and balance among fellow humans and the environment.
Mind you, he did not change his name, it remained Muhammad. 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.
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, but the people of those lands were also 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 compel others to change their faith, and now Hindus are doing the same nonsense.  I continue to condemn conversion by force, it is wrong to force anyone to believe against his or her will. The Prophet was clear on that.
60 Years Old – Short-time beard to do a few video clips
The idea of a Hindu name, a 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. 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 God’s own country, where people have no qualms in naming their children and 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.
So my name is Mike Mohamed Ghouse.# # #

My calling

Center for Pluralism is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 (as Foundation for Pluralism). It rests on a principle; the more we know about each other, the 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 in over 300 newspapers around the world fostering 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 5 annual programs to bring Americans together on religious, social, political and cultural aspects of life. The more we know each other, the fewer conflicts we would have. Please review our programs and except for the Religious workshops and Unity Day all other applications 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 stable, 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 workplace where people of different faiths, races, ethnicities, and national origins do not work, interact, play, live and marry together. This situation is bound to create conflicts in airports, public spaces, boardrooms, and in bedrooms as well as places of worship, workplaces, politics, eateries, and schools.
We have a responsibility to shape the future of our society so our kids, grandkids and we can retire in peace and live without apprehensions.

Mike's Short Bio

Mike Mohamed Ghouse is committed to his life mission of building cohesive workplaces, 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 five 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 others” and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of us.
He is a pluralist, thinker, writer, activist, and speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, politics, Islam, human rights, and foreign policy including India and Israel-Palestine. He is a newsmaker, 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.

Whatever Mike does, he does it wholeheartedly. He pours his heart, soul, and mind into it. Mike has excelled in public, media, government, and community relations. He does his best as a spokesperson. He is an outstanding communicator and projects the policies and practices of the organizations he represents most effectively. 

Mike’s passion is to open people’s hearts and minds towards each other. Mike is a pragmatist and applies his mantra “Conflict mitigation, and goodwill nurturance” in each conflict faced.

He is home with people of different races, faiths, cultures, ethnicities and political orientations. He is blessed to have stood up for the rights of people of every faith from Atheists to Zoroastrians including Native Americans, Pagans, immigrants, Wicca and LGBTQ communities. 

Inspired by Steve Jobs call to pursue one's passion, Goethe’s call to commitment, and mother’s advice to living a fulfilling life, Mike went to town in pursuit of his passion,

His passion is to open people’s hearts and minds towards fellow beings. He has seen the fruits of his work where individuals with extreme resentment have come together. If we can learn to respect the other otherness of others and accepts the God-given uniqueness of each one of us then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 

Pluralism is Mike’s baby. In the next ten years, we will not find a place of work, worship, restaurant, office, playground or home where people of different races, faiths, ethnicities, and cultures do not interact, work and even marry together. This situation is bound to create conflicts, and we have the responsibility to prepare society to deal with it, so we can enjoy life rather than entangle ourselves in daily battles.

Mike is a frequent guest on national TV and Radio and has a strong presence in social media. He is a thinker, writer, newsmaker, human rights activist, interfaith wedding officiant, and a Public Speaker. 

His Google profile has been visited by over 35 million individuals with thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, yahoo groups and personal lists.
He is the founder and CEO of the Center for Pluralism. The bottom line of 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 other.

A few of my profiles

A short Bio

My profile in 68 pages: http://centerforpluralism.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/3.-MikeGhouse-Building-Cohesive-Societies-68-Pages.pdf 

URL: http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2012/12/mike-ghouse-indian-american-pluralist.html

Note: A lot more work has been done since I wrote this note in 2012, much of it can be seen at www.CenterforPluralism.com
Here is our brochure: http://centerforpluralism.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/4.-CPF-Programs-4-Pages.pdf 

1. Google Profile - over 60 Million views   https://plus.google.com/108969690090944956820/about

Much of my work is at:

Plugin name of Religion, any religion / or name of the festival any festival in Google, there is a substantial amount of work done in every area of humanity. 
Conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturance run in Mike’s veins, it is the formula of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Google Search “Mike Ghouse _______ “ name of any religion or a festival

Thank you.


  1. Ghouse by any name makes sense, always.

  2. Thank you Mike for your nice article..by theway the name MikEL is mentioned in the Holy Quran as an angel.

    Just a small correction if you allow me...the sequence of the four Khalifs was Abu Bakr,Omar, Uthman, Ali..

    Prohet Mohamed never asked any one to change his name when he accepted Islam . My name Issa is the same name of Jesus ..my Brother is Musa which is Moses My other brother is Suleiman Which is Solomon My uncle name is Dawood which is David...We all are muslims...I hope the picture is now clear.

    1. I agree with Mr. Issa Adawi that "Mike" is the shortened form for Mee-cha-El, "Who is like El," and one of the Archangels in Heaven. El, in turn, is a very old Babylonian name for the chief god in the Babylonian pantheon.
      In any case, it is a fine old name, and you wear it well, as you do Mohamed.

  3. It's true - I was confused moving to Texas from the metro NY area and so many names I knew to be 'Jewish' there where Christian here. At first I thought it was assimilation because the families in Texas were more spread out. Then I learned how Jewish immigrants adopted their new countries' names in Germany for example.

  4. What a pleasure to discover one more Spiritual Sibling. :-)