What is your real name?
Since I stepped onto this soil, there was not a week that has passed without being asked, “What is your real name” and I say, Mike Ghouse. Then they get stuck trying to figure out how to ask about my nationality and religion, I smile every time at their ulterior motive and say. “It is Ghouse; Mike Mohamed Ghouse.”Don’t ask me what I see on their face. I have been uttering this sentence for the last 40 years.
There are three funny and serious stories about the name that I am pleased to share.
First of all, the name “Mike” is not copyrighted or patented; it is a name like any other name anyone can 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 for those Muslims who ask, I have responded to them in this essay.
“A handful of Muslims and Hindus who hate the idea of Pluralism and cook up stories about me without knowing a thing, and it astounds 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 not from Mumbai, Cochin, or Hyderabad but Bangalore. It amazes me how small and judgemental some of these men are.
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. Sardar was the given name after Sardar Patel, the home minister at that time. My younger brother was named Nasir – after Nasir blocked the Portuguese vessel in Suez to for India take back the territory of Goa.
How the name Mike came about
I was in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from 1977 through 1980 with Fluor Corporation. I was the Deputy Controller of Finance and 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 was in charge of the Uthmaniya site and I was in touch with him every day. In December 1977, my father Abdul Rahman passed away in India. It was a big loss for me. I had always wanted to take care of him and serve him but did not get the opportunity to do that. He used to tell us that he will earn his livelihood till his last breath, and he did that precisely. We had agreed that my next paycheck was going to be for his personal use, unfortunately, he did not receive my paycheck. He passed away. I could not fulfill the desire to take care of my father. I wanted him to retire and enjoy his life, he had served the family and the people of Yelahanka well. He was called Mamu (Uncle) by all people. The population of Yelahanka was 10,000 at that time, and Muslims were about 150, yet, they elected him to the be Mayor of the town and he remained on the council for nearly 15 years. Everyone came to him for finding solutions to their conflicts, which has become my passion as well.
Everett Blauvelt more or less filled my need for a father figure. He was there for me and regularly inquired about my family. We became friends, and on holidays we went shopping and ate in different restaurants in Al-Khobar, Hofuf, and Dammam.
Mr. Blauvelt started calling me “Mike,” 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.
That’s how I got the name “Mike” and I made sure, it was included on my naturalization papers or the Citizenship certificate. It is a part of my legal name, and it is “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 I don’t care what anyone says. Even now once in a while someone from the Muslim community criticizes, and someone from the Hindu community digs at me, I say, forgive them, Lord, for they know not.
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, my languages. Every day, I make an effort to live without bias.
Name Bias has its own advantages.
Following this note, I have written the origins of the names of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Hazrat Khadija, Hazrat Fatima, Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique, Hazrat Omar, Hazrat Uthman, and Hazrat Ali. The first four big names after the Prophet.
Now the stories;
In December 2009, I gave a presentation on the scriptural reading of the Quran in Melbourne, Australia at the Parliament 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.
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 http://quraanconference.blogspot.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 and Dome of the Rock. I have prayed in all the three holy sanctuaries of Islam and I have prayed in the mosque of “every” Muslim denomination except the Alawites. 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, and 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 and their religions with all my heart, mind, and soul.
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 nearly two dozen worshippers.
At the gate to the Mosque, 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 I did. Then he told me to move over, and at 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, are you a Muslim? He asked why didn’t I say Alhamdu Lillah, I said, it’s not in my practice. He pulls me over to 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.
Anyway, 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. By the way, a group of us had sahri at the home of Imam Bukhari’s great great great Grandson. His home is within walking distance from the dome of the rock.
This is for Muslims: The Name Muhammad (PBUH)
I would like to remind my Muslim friends that the name Muhammad was given to him 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 into different religions.
So, the Prophet announced the message about the accountability of one’s actions to a single creator, no one is going to go Scott free for the wrongs he or she does and getaway in this life, the law of karma would operate. The word Muslim simply means an exemplary citizen who subscribes to the practice of justice, accountability and cares for fellow humans. One who takes his responsibility seriously and works on preserving and restoring harmony and balance among fellow humans and the environment.
Mind you, when he was 40, he received the revelations and started his mission of preaching about the oneness of God, and he did not change his name, it remained Muhammad. There was no need to change anyone’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), Amina (Mother), Halima (his caregiver) and others were their given names at birth as pagans, and when they became Muslims they did not change their names, it was not a requirement, and neither the name of the prophet was changed.
Indeed, there never was a requirement to change anyone’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 also asked to consider the new value of the oneness of God and how the accountability of deeds benefits the society and them individually. 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.
There is no such thing as a Muslim name. Prophet Muhammad never gave a list of names calling them Muslim names. The idea of a Hindu name, a Muslim name, a Christian name, a Buddhist name, or a Jewish name is a myth that 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.
More about me at https://TheGhouseDiary.com
My short bio
Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, thinker, author, newsmaker, organizer, pluralist, and interfaith wedding officiant. He offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the media, policymakers, and organizations. His personal mission is to open people’s hearts, minds, and souls toward each other.
He is driven by the idea of Pluralism, that is if we can learn to “Respect the otherness of the others” and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. Indeed, this is his definition of pluralism.
Mike is an effective communicator. His speeches, commentaries, press releases, articles, messages, and discussions are appreciated for common-sense clarity. Given his background in publishing newspapers, producing radio & tv talk shows, and commenting on national tv, he has excelled in building relations with the community, public, media, and the government.
His experience in dealing with people from different faiths, races, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual, and political orientations has empowered him with community-building expertise. He is committed to building cohesive communities – i.e., bringing people together towards achieving set goals.
Conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturance are his first nature and he offers pluralistic** solutions on issues of the day. Whatever he does, he does it wholeheartedly and pours his heart, mind, and soul into it — a trailblazer by all counts.
The skills that have made him a successful consultant are; communications, project management, events management, customer care, community outreach, social media, public relations, media relations, teacher, trainer, budget, and operations management.
Two books are on the horizon, “Standing up for others” and “Pluralism in America.” The “American Muslim Agenda” is released and is available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores. If you want to know everything about American Muslims and the essence of Islam, this book is for you. It is about fostering societies where no one is more privileged than the other. Mike has co-authored a few books and has been cited in over 500 books and articles.
The Center for Pluralism is an established educational institution in the Washington DC area. What have we accomplished? Here it is – http://centerforpluralism.com/mission-accomplished-at-the-center-for-pluralism/
Pluralism is my calling – I am passionate about it and have invested my life fully into it. I was driven to it by seeing the endless conflicts in the world, between family members, communities, religious groups, and nations. There always was a solution – that is if we learn to respect the otherness of the other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
While respecting them all, I did not want to be a part of any religion, indeed I belonged to all. Then in the early ’90s after my divorce, I was a lost soul and figuring to recover from it. I was seeking to find solutions to the conflicts. Thank the creator, I did not go to the Himalayas but found it by living my life and interacting with people from different faiths, races, ethnicities, cultures, and political and sexual orientations.
My finding was religions and governments were formed with the purpose of building cohesive societies, where no individual had to live in fear or in apprehension. I studied the essence of all religions and did workshops, radio talk shows, and extensive writings. All religions serve the same purpose of building cohesive societies.
That was my calling – Building cohesive societies by learning to respect the otherness of the other. I was inspired by the verse from the Quran 49:13 – where God addresses humanity that he has created the human species from a single couple and made it into diverse communities, races, ethnicities, and by extension religions and cultures. Then he says, the best ones among you are the ones who take time to know each other. Indeed, if we take the time to learn about each other, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
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 promoting and advancing pluralism in the realm of religion, politics, and 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 700 hours on 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 policymakers, 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 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.
More about me
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.
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.
Mike’s passion is to open people’s hearts and minds toward 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’s call to pursue one’s passion, Goethe’s call to commitment, and his mother’s advice to living a fulfilling life, Mike went to town in pursuit of his passion. He dropped all other work and dedicated himself to his calling.
His passion is to open people’s hearts and minds toward 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 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 on social media. He is a thinker, writer, newsmaker, human rights activist, interfaith wedding officiant, and Public Speaker.
His Google profile has been visited by over 35 million individuals with thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, 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
My profile in 68 pages: http://centerforpluralism.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/3.-MikeGhouse-Building-Cohesive-Societies-68-Pages.pdf
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:
- Center for Pluralism – http://www.CenterforPluralism.com
- Interfaith Marriages – http://www.InterfaithMarriages.org
- World Muslim Congress- http://www.WorldMuslimCongress.org
- The Ghouse Diary – https://theghousediary.com
- Muslim Speaker – http://www.MuslimSpeaker.com
- Interfaith Speaker – http://www.InterfaithSpeaker.org
- Pluralism Speaker – http://www.mikeghouse.net/InterfaithSpeaker_MikeGhouse.asp
- Indian Version of my bio – http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2012/12/mike-ghouse-indian-american-pluralist.html
- Muslim Pedia – http://www.worldmuslimpedia.com/mike-mohamed-ghouse-a-pluralist-and-an-outstandi
Plug in 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
A FEW OF MY PROFILES
Conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturance run in Mike’s veins, it is the formula of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
My profile, CV, and a 60-page accomplishment record are at LInked-in with three attachments https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeghouse/
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Mohamed_Ghouse
Google Profile – over 60 Million views https://plus.google.com/108969690090944956820/abou
Mission Accomplished http://centerforpluralism.com/mission-accomplished-at-the-center-for-pluralism/
My 9/11 Story: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/911-prompts-muslims-to-ma_b_1867143.html
Holocaust and the Muslim guy – https://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/holocaust-and-the-muslim-_b_4629509.html
My India Story:http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2012/12/mike-ghouse-indian-american-pluralist.html
Muslim Pedia – https://medium.com/worldmuslimpedia/mike-mohamed-ghouse-a-pluralist-and-an-outstanding-interfaith-and-peace-activist-5db250a38f06?fbclid=IwAR2HQvVTVJDLJPGRbQejDJirdOwHYYge6-rlSV-F-qru8SvlscjFZbI9GZ0
Mike Ghouse is on Google page 1 or 2 for Pluralism Speaker, Interfaith Speaker, and Muslim speaker
Plugin “Mike Ghouse _______ “(name of Religion, any religion for entries) in Google, there is a substantial amount of work done in every area of humanity.
Linked in – https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeghouse/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Dr.MikeGhouse
Twitter – https://twitter.com/MikeGhouse
Dr. Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions to issues of the day.
His new book, the “American Muslim Agenda” is about everything you wanted to know about Muslims. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kindle. Mike is a public speaker, author, interfaith wedding officiant, newsmaker, and the executive director of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC. More about him in three formats at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeghouse/