Editor’s Note: "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" features the Muslim community of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Matthew Miller has lived since age 15. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door” airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. E.T. April 2 on CNN.
By Elizabeth M. Nunez, CNN
The actual conversion was brief. It only involved one sentence: “I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but God, I bear witness that Mohammed is the messenger of God.”
For 30-year-old Mathew Miller, those words represented the culmination of a long religious transformation from Christianity to Islam.
Miller is a digital media communications major at Middle Tennessee University and works part-time at a golf course. He was raised Christian in California, surfing and dreaming of being a radio DJ.
“My first interaction with Islam was this movie called ‘Not Without my Daughter’. That was my first glimpse into what Western society believed was really going on in Islam,” he said.
"Not Without My Daughter" is a 1991 film in which Sally Field portrays an America woman who flees from Iran with her daughter. The movie, based on true story detailed in a book by the same title, was faulted by critics for portraying a stereotypical view of Iranians and Islam.
But in questioning his own beliefs, and after a conversation with a Muslim friend, Miller’s interest in Islam was piqued.
“I think for the most part I was afraid, don’t really know of what,” he said.
Later, attending Friday prayers at a small Mosque in Murfreesboro, he began to learn more.
“When I put my head on the ground with them, it felt like I could say anything to God, and what I was asking for at the time was guidance. I wanted to know whether what I was doing was the right thing to do.”
His mother had long expected his change of religious faith. “I told my mother I was Muslim in Disneyland. She said ‘I don’t necessarily know if I feel good about it, but if it makes you happy and it’s what you feel is the right way, then there’s nothing I can do.’”
Now he regularly worships at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro mosque.
Miller, a white convert in a diverse congregation, has heard comments about his faith - and the controversy surrounding his mosque. Once, an Iraqi war veteran told him that the new controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro should not be built because it could potentially harbor terrorists.
“I addressed his questions formally and it was funny because at the end of the conversation, he kind of started admitting, 'Well you know, I don’t know anything about Islam.”
hello!,I like your writing so so much! share we communicate more approximately your post on AOL? I need an expert on this area to resolve my problem. Maybe that's you! Looking forward to peer you.
That's just plain dumb–Proclaiming to be a Muslim when he admits that he knows nothing about Islam–
The one who's saying he doesn't know anything about Islam is the Iraqi war vet, not the man about whom the article is written.
They are angry about one mosque in TN … Look at Egypt; Look what Muslims did in Egypt in four weeks
1. Burn a Church in Helwan.
2. Enforced Sharia law on a Christian man by cutting his ear off.
3. Kidnapped four young Christian girls forcing them to convert to Islam (Nermine Youssef, Farida Nayim, Mary Abdo and Madline Esam)
4. Just last Sunday they threatened every woman in Egypt not wearing a veil to throw acid in her face.
5. Muslims besieged a Church in Pashteel and prevented Christians to pray last Sunday?
6. Christians received threats to demolish a church in Bany Ahmed Village in El Minya and Muslims prevented the completion of additional building belong to the Church? Muslims also threatened kidnapping of the Copts and their daughters and their wives if they start building.
7. Last week Muslims terrorized children while they were attending Sunday school at Virgin Mary and St. George Church in Embaba, Giza and prevented the priest from entering the Church?
8. Why the Bishop in El Minya still prays in a tent!! Yet there is a mosque in every corner in Egypt ad why it is too difficult to get a permission to build a Church in Egypt?
I hope the producers of “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door” go to Egypt, there are plenty of materials to cover not only of one hour but of years of unfairness to Christians in Egypt.
Please consider the following site:
For those ignorant of Islam, try to study the faith and not merely base your conclusions on the biased writings of Robert Spencer (who has become quite wealthy promoting Islamophobia through book publications and speaking engagement fees).
Being a meddler of hate against Muslims can be a profitable way to make a living now.
As a Muslim American, I will not deny the heinous crimes committed in the name of God. Muslims do not worship a "moon god," Muhammad and his community ended the pagan practices of the Arabs of the Hijaz and elsewhere. "Allah" is a compound from the Arabic for "La Ilah" (The God) and is the same name used by Arab Jews and Arab Christians. Yes, there are Jews of Arab ethnicity.
Many Jewish Arab communities have largely relocated to Israel and the West due to anti-Semiticism. Prior to the creation of the state of Israel, Jews lived in peace with Muslims in various parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Israel's presence in the Middle East has created a schism in the Arab world between the Muslim majority and the Jewish minority. Christians were sparred, but in recent years communal violence against Arab Christians has led to a mass exodus from the region.
This is an unfortunate development. This prejudice is not condoned by the tenets of Islam.
Islam is belief in monotheism (Tawhid), prayer (salaat), pilgrimage (Hajj), fasting during the month of Ramadan, and compulsory charity (zakat). These are the pillars of Islam. Islam is pretty straightforward. However, the details of Islam are debatable.
It is these details which lead to disagreement and sometimes compel some to act violently.
Mankind's greatest arrogance to believe we have an understanding of G-d.
What made me doubt my own religion... In Matthew 27:45-46, it says, "Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" If Jesus is God, why would He say this?
I know I know! Its kind of hard to understand, but heres the crux (pun intended) of the matter... Jesus is not God!
The bible makes a lot more sense when read without the preconceived (by Romans who already worshiped a Triune Godhead when they adopted Christianity) notion that Jesus IS his own Father, and a Ghost apparently...
Not that it really matters when they to are just one of many creation stories thought up by man to explain the unknown. But even their authors never intended some Chimera type three headed God. Moses (who penned Genesis while in the wilderness) would likely have had anyone worshiping a trinity put to death in his day, much like those worshiping the golden calf.
It was at that point that all the sins of the world were laid upon Jesus. God cannot abide sin and so for Jesus, who had always been one with His Father, for the first time in His existence knew what it was to be separated from God the Father. And that is also what separates us from being at peace with God. Our sins keep us from having a direct relationship with God. And that is why Jesus chose to allow Himself to be sacrificed on the cross. His death was the sacrifice made for all of us so we could be reconciled to God. John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that who so ever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."
More islam appeasing CNN trash. Unbelievable. CNN is becoming the laughing stock.
I don't know why christians think that they are the only people who should be allowed to "practice," and i use that word lightly, their religion. This country was supposedly founded so that people could be free from persecution for "practicing" whatever religion they believe in. But here in the "baptist bible belt" that is only true if you are a christian. Too bad these christians don't "practice" what they preach. And believe me, they preach. Religion is a personal belief and needs to be kept that way. Do not inflict your ignorant opinions and misconceptions on the masses. You don't like a particular religious belief, then don't practice it. The exact reason that i left catholicism and no longer follow any religious doctrine. Personally, i am offended by the fact that every corner in Murfreesboro, TN has some kind of christian church sitting on it, but i'm not going to sue to have them closed. I just laugh as i pass by them. Get over yourselves, christians. You are not the only religious belief and it's time that someone brought you down to your knees, so to speak.
it is funny how muslim act different when they are in USA and try to be more of freedom, peaceful people. I was born in Iraq and I had never seen them so nice and explain how there are bad muslim and good muslim. the only reason they could not hurt christen was because the government did not allowed them. Look at iraq now, weak government and every christen either is killed or fleet the country. travel to dearborn michigan, and set with muslim, you can see that they are nice because of the government laws, talk to them and look how they would treat you. off course if you are an american person, they show you that they are nice, but be as a christen iraqi and you can find the different. end of the day, Muslim are two faces, one is true faith and the other is fake faith. you are has to be lucky to trust one of them, am sure there are good ones, but how many are there...
Your fingers are not the same...
There was a seed of distrust planted among us in our countries directing us to confront each other as to being on different religions or as different branches of religions...!!
I don't know many Chaldeans or Assyrians named Joe!
Ahhh Religion, bringing hope to people in a world torn apart by Religion....please, grow up before it's too late.
Jesus Christ claimed to be the Son of God in many places in the written Word of God Bible. People be careful what you say of Jesus Christ, if you say he is not Son of God then it a blasphemy against the True God.
These are the verses in the True Word of God Bible which states that Jesus is God in flesh.
1) “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
2) "Before Abraham was, I am". John 8:58
3) John 1:1 says that “the Word was God.”
4) John 1:14 says that “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”
5) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23
6) For unto us a Child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder: and his name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (written: 712 BC (Before Christ)
7) And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. Luke 7:16
8)The Jews answered him [Jesus], saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. John 10:33
9) When many were about to stone Jesus for blasphemy (John 10:30-39),
10) He said to them that said he blasphemed "because I said, I am the Son of God?" (John 10:36).
11) You call Me Teacher and Lord; and ye say well; for so I Am. John 13:13
12) God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" in Exodus 3:14
Jesus Christ my Saviour and Saviour of all mankind has told repeatedly he is God He is that "I AM" meaning the "God The Almighty" the one true God Jehovah (meaning of this word is I AM WHO I AM) of the Universe and above.
People read the bible properly and then comment, don't give illiterate comments
There is only one truth in the world and that is Jesus Christ because he declared in the written Word of God Bible. There is no relative truths. Any thing or any one saying any other Gospel of Jesus Christ is a heretic and they are bound towards hell. I don't want to be PC and I want to share the Truth only, Because Gods Word says, if you know the truth the truth will set you free.
The Quran says:
"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors. And kill them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, kill them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. The prohibited month, for the prohibited month, and so for all things prohibited, there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves." (al-Baqarah 2:190-194)
The OLD TESTAMENT says :
“When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace. If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. When the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword. Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you. Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes” (Deuteronomy 20:10-17)
I do not see a difference so do NOT take things out of context before you read the entire book yourself and make sense of it.
And do not say "yes, but this was the Old testament, nobody follows that now" ... That is wrong, the Old Testament is what Christianity itself was first based upon. The only difference is that Muslims have not edited out their holy script like what Christians seem to do :)
in the Quran, Mohammed says "Slay your enemies"
In the Bible, Jesus say "Forgive your enemies"
in the Quaran, Mohammed says "Slay your enemies"
in the Bible, Jesus says " Forgive your enemies"
correction Islam calls for slaying your enemies if they oppress you and kill you and do not want peaceful terms. But if they stop and call for peace you must stop fighting. Get you facts straight. You took those 4/5 words out of context. You have to read the verses before and after genius.
As for Matt I am proud of you. I am proud that you took Islam for what it truly is. You did not take the media and haters for the true meaning of Islam. That is why Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. It makes sense, period.
I once worked with a Muslim from Saudi Arabia who sat me with for 2 years at all my breaks and lunches to discuss his religious beliefs. After two years he announced to me, "It is apparent that you will not convert to Islam. Do you know what I am supposed to do?" When I said no, he leaned over, looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Then I am to kill you."
He sat up, his voice took a softer tone and he smiled as he said, "If you ever tell anyone about our conversations and what I just said, I will deny it and call you a liar. But never forget, my job now is to see you dead."
That was about 3 years before the Trade Center killings and I have not forgotten. Islam was personalized for me by a young man that I had formerly respected and trusted–and now I know ALL of them to be dangerous and hateful towards others who will not accept their doctrine.
So sad so many are being fooled by them. They are a religious cancer.
Hello Mari .
Just wanto to tell you one thing , that guy you were talking about DOES NOT KNOW ANY THING ABOUT ISLAM. he is muslim by the name that is all.
and also you can't judged millions of people by one person. :)
you can't say that we all bad and will kill you if you don;t convert to islam, that is stuipd . I'm a muslim and have lots lots of friends from other religions. we all are the same even er have differend religions , there are bad people and nice people so don't judge all muslim by that muslim guy .
did he kill you?
What's REALLY sad it the fact that he approached you in that manner. I have have MANY non-Muslim friends who have given NO indication that they'd be converting to Islam. I've, in turn, made no such threats (as your former co-worked allegedly made). I wish them the best, in fact!
But what's MORE sad is the weak-minded bigotry that you are demonstrating by placing this stigma on ALL Muslims based on the words and misdeeds of a few Muslims.....who actually acted outside of faith! And like Hamza asked, "Did he kill you" as he said he would? The obvious answer is NO....or you wouldn't be live to have posted your comment!
I pray that you are still well and are of sound mind to understand that 99.999999% of Muslims living in this country are upstanding, spiritual, law-abiding, hard-working, tax-paying, honest, voting American citizens!!
could u come up with a better lie?
5:51 O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends: They are but friends to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.
Now it has been claimed that this verse is incorrectly translated but it is the only translation I have ever seen and it would seem to imply Muslims should not have friends amongst the infidels.
If you had actually taken time to read what the Quran says then you may not be in the situation that you are in right now.
Hitler who 'claimed' to be a Christian killed thousands of Jews in the name of Christianity. Did the whole world blame the religion or the man himself ? The guy may have even been pulling your leg knowing how ignorant/gullible you are when it comes to Islam, the sad thing is – you would never have known it.
I have many muslim friends and this has never happened to me. They are very open-minded relaxed people, yet still religious and hold their beliefs. We have fun and discuss religion openly at times – and there is yet a lot for us to learn from them before we judge.
And do not compare any religion to cancer. It is impolite and somewhat offensive to people who have cancer and rely on religious beliefs for support (this is a personal matter).
This guy, like many so-called Muslims across the globe, is twisted and has been indoctrinated with a corrupt and false understanding of Islam. There are dozens of verses in the Quran forbidding any kind of action being taken against those who deny the message of Islam. Further, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH never once raised a finger against a person who denied him – not even to those who ridiculed him.
Sounds like a Christian to me, but on a smaller scale. And please explain to me something. If God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are one and the same as the Bible says and suggests over and over, then why are Muslims buring in hell, when they absolutely, 100% see the God of Abraham as the only, one, true God. They may not recognize God in his Jesus form, but they certainly recognize God in his God form. So what's the problem? Because thye don't use the name Jesus? I just pray that someday more people will find in themselves the ability to live moral lives without the imagined reason.
you know ALL of us to be dangerous and hateful? Im sorry that you had that awful experience but i think its just as awful that you would judge all of us by the acts of a few idiots. My religion is not at all hateful. Im american born and raised. the daughter of a marine and engaged to a us soldier (who is also muslim and loves america enough to risk his life for it). My whole family is Christian and i was raised one too so theres no hateful feelings towards other religions. I feel sorry for all the people who form their beliefs about Islam on the media. I was once afraid like you but unlike people like you, i took the time out to explore what i didnt know instead of following someone elses opinion and i found the truth about this beautiful religion. Im not forcing my beliefs on you because theres no compulsion in religion but i suggest that you learn before you judge. not just the random out of context passages that people tend to quote but the message of peace it preaches
It's either you made the whole story up, or the person you talked about is not a Muslim.
The action's of one man should not dictate your opinion towards 24% of the world's peoples.
Furthermore, I'm an American Muslim, many "pious" Saudi men would avoid interaction with women not related to them by blood or marriage in casual public interaction.
...Yeah, ok, and I believe pigs fly too. Could you be any more of a bigot? The actions of one do not account for all, if your story is even legitimate.
First, none of you know for certain if there is a God or not. You may think there is, or not, but you do not know. Regardless, if there really is a God – do any of you you really believe that he, she, it needs your help?
That same state of "not knowing" applies more to you that those who believe that God is real.
That same state of "not knowing" applies more to you than those who believe that God is real. We are certain that He is real.
Look at this garden of the universe, this orchard of the earth; look carefully at the beautiful face of the heavens gilded with stars! You will see that on each of the artifacts spread out and scattered over them is a stamp particular to the Creator of All Things, and on each creature a seal special to the Maker of All Things, and on the levels of being written on the pages of night and day, summer and winter, each published by the pen of power, are inimitable, illustrious signatures of an All-Glorious Maker, an All-Beauteous Creator. We shall now mention a few of those stamps, seals, and signatures by way of example:
For example, of the innumerable stamps, consider this stamp out of many placed on life: "He makes everything out of one thing and makes one thing out of everything." For He makes the innumerable members and systems of animals out of a fluid and also out of simple water which is drunk. Thus, to make one thing everything is surely the work of One possessing Absolute Power. And One Who transforms with perfect order numerous substances from the uncountable foods that are eaten, whether plant or animal, into a particular body, and weaves from them a particular skin, and makes from them simple members, is surely One Powerful over All Things, and One Knowing of All Things. Indeed, the Creator of Life and Death administers life through His wisdom in this workshop of the world through such a miraculous commanding law that to carry out that law and enforce it is particular to One Who holds in the grasp of His power the whole universe.
Thus, if your mind is not extinguished and your heart not blind, you will understand that what makes one thing with perfect ease and order, and makes everything, one thing in skillful fashion with perfect balance and order, is a stamp particular to the Maker of everything and a seal special to the Creator of All Things. For example, if you see that together with weaving a hundred rolls of broadcloth and various other cloths like silk or cambric from one ounce of cotton, a wonder-worker also makes many foods from it like helva and pastries, then you see that he takes a handful of iron and stone, honey and butter, water and earth, and makes some fine gold, of course, you would certainly pronounce him to possess such art that all the elements of the earth are subjugated to his command and all the substances of the earth look to his word. Indeed, the manifestatlon of power and wisdom in life is a thousand times more wondrous than this example.
Thus, one stamp on life out of many.
The worst error and misguidance of the students of philosophy, the people of unbelief and the instinctual soul, lies in not recognizing God. Just as in the preceding story the trustworthy man said, "there can be no letter without a scribe, no law without a legislator," we too say the following:
A book, particularly one in each word of which a minute pen has inscribed another whole book, and in each letter of which a fine pen has traced a poem, cannot be without a writer; this would be entirely impossible. So too this cosmos cannot be without its inscriber; this is impossible to the utmost degree. For the cosmos is precisely such a book that each of its pages includes many other books, each of its words contains a book, and each of its letters contains a poem. The face of the earth is but a single page in the book of the cosmos. See how many books it contains. Every fruit is a letter, and every seed is a dot. In that dot is contained the index of the whole tree in its vastness. A book such as this can have been inscribed only by the mighty pen of a Possessor of Glory Who enjoys the attributes of splendour and beauty, and Who is the holder of infinite wisdom and power. Faith, then, follows inevitably on the observation of the world, unless one is drunk on misguidance.
Similarly, a house cannot arise without a builder, particularly a house adorned with miraculous works of art, wondrous designs, and amazing ornaments. As much art has been put into one of its stones as into a whole palace. No intelligence will accept that it could arise without a builder; definitely it needs a master architect. Moreover, within the building, veritable rooms take shape and change each hour with the utmost order and ease, just as if clothes were being changed, or as if scenes were passing across a cinema screen. We can say even that numerous little rooms are constantly being created in each of those scenes.
In like manner, the cosmos also requires an infinitely wise, all-knowing and all-powerful maker. For the magnificent cosmos is a palace that has the sun and the moon as its lamps and the stars as its candles; time is like a rope or ribbon hung within it, on to which the Glorious Creator each year threads a new world. And within the world that He thus threads on the string of time He places three hundred and sixty fresh and orderly forms. He changes them with the utmost orderliness and wisdom. He has made the face of the earth a bounteous spread that He adorns each spring with three hundred thousand species of creation, that He fills with innumerable kinds of generous gifts. This He does in such a fashion that they all stand apart from each other, quite separate and distinct, despite their being at the same time so close and intermingled. Is it possible to overlook the existence of the Maker of such a palace?
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.