We have heard a lot of controversy about using Obama’s middle name, Hussein (most people probably don’t even know who it refers to), but few have inquired about where his first name comes from (Newsweek this week talks about how Senator Obama switched from referring to himself as Barry to Barack, but never tells you what Barack means.) So here, perhaps for the first time, you can learn what his first name means and where it comes from.

Barack, Barak, or Buraq as it is usually spelled, was the name of the magical creature (usually depicted in Islamic art as a winged horse) Mohammad rode on his night journey (Isra and Miraj) to what the Koran calls “the furthest Mosque” or Al Aqsa in Arabic. Nearly all Muslims believe that this location is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, though the Koran itself doesn’t say so explicitly. Mohammed’s journey thus forms the basis for the Muslim claim over Jerusalem (Al Quds). On the way back, he visits the 7th Heaven and converses with other prophets and God Himself.

NOTE: I don’t want anyone to think I’m inferring that Obama is a crypto-Muslim, out to secretly implement sharia law here in America. I don’t believe that for a second. I’m also not trying to suggest that because he has this first name he’s anti-Israel; I don’t know what he really believes about Israel and Jews (or if it matters; no President was more anti-semitic than Nixon, and yet he helped defend Israel during the Yom Kippur War). But whatever it is, it’s not because of his name. I just think it’s interesting and illuminates an interesting incident from Mohammed’s life that few outside Islam are probably aware of. It could be that neither Senator Obama himself nor his father ever really knew where “Barack” actually comes from. But now you do.