March 25th, 2011
09:34 AM ET

Christian to Muslim: A change of faith

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.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Interfaith issues • Iran • Islam • Mosque • Muslim

soundoff (3,206 Responses)
  1. wade

    Ignorance is never justifiable and always hurtful to all. However having said that it is utterly amazing to me that with the Muslims killing Christians all around the world by the thousands and burning down houses and churches that CNN would tell a story depicting the Muslim as a victim. with out mentioning at all the reason and the motives for people to be afraid as they so obviously are. Poor misunderstood Muslim as they are slitting the throat of the Christians all over the world.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  2. jma58

    How much faith does it take to change your allegiance from one imaginary god to another?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  3. Ken

    >>He was raised Christian in California, surfing and dreaming of being a radio DJ.

    Just because he was raised in a Christian home, if he was, doesn't make him a Christian. The dreams that he had don't sound like a statement of faith to me, they sound like a statement of confusion. That he is now a Muslim, for sure those dreams that he had probably wont fly well with the Iman at his mosque unless thy allow that to be a cover for his terrorist training in his new "religion of peace'. That CNN likes this kinda stuff shouldn't be a shock to anyone.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  4. Frank In SA

    You Muslims that try to hide behind the Americanized names on this site are knocked off by your incorrect tenses. You talk about Christian factions but recognize that no Democratic Country and most are Christian has ever started a war against another Democratic country. You don't see Christians telling people that if they don't believe in Christianity that they will kill them. I bet half of the poor little kids in Islam are scared to death that if they don't believe they are going to be killed by their dad! God wants us to believe because he relishes in the believer trusting in him with no concrete evidence in him, while how hard is it for a Muslim to believe in Mohamed that has been recorded? I belived Mohamed existed alright. I exist, therefore bow down and worship me and if you don't my followers will kill you! That is essentially what Islam is. You have to believe or you will be killed. That is rediculous people. A religion should not be forced and until Islam comes out and states that it is against Jihad in the name of furthering its religion it will fail somehow some way but it will fail!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Vanessa

      You obviously know NOTHING about Islam and have dedicated your time viewing what the media shows. Islam is a religion to be humble and kind to one another. They don't show that side like everything else. Before you speak about something, READ and educate yourself. All religions are beautiful, is people who make it better or worse.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  5. fsygywgkuyf

    too much weed surfing in Cali

    March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  6. Mro

    why is there so much hate here? apparently the people that that are spreading the hate are just mad...people are in no postion to judge anyone...so dont only god will. Coexist guys...coexist...

    March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Vanessa

      I agree with you 100%. People are so angry at their own lives, they have to respond with negativity. God is there, and he knows what we do.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  7. Ori

    That is really sad that this guy doesn't know what Islam represents and he converts without studying the Koran. How stupid can you be? If you want to know the real Islam just go to Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries. Do you see any happiness there? And what kind of a religion is it that keeps killing Christians and burn their homes? Who is Allah? That is not the real true forgiving and loving God. Jesus is the only way and he is the only true love. Just see what he did when he was on earth. Did he kill? NO..He healed and forgave.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  8. Tlil

    The Jews invented the one god theory.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  9. Ken Davis

    When we stop believing in invisible omniscient beings and realize we are really just mediating with our self concious only then will wars stop. Over two thousand years every religion has commited attrocities in the name of their faith.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  10. StopBelievingNonsense

    Religion is a cancer on humanity.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • yahcheck yourquotes

      IIt'd be religion is the opium of the people... and whatever means that make mankind strive to better themselves can't be called a cancer....

      March 25, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Vanessa

      Only a person who is empty like you would say something like that

      March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  11. mjandrews8

    Um, if this guy "transformed" in the muslim holy land of mecca or really most other ME countriies from islam to Christian, they'd cut his head-off...we jsut saw waht muslims do to Christian churches in Ethiopia...religion of peace my A holio!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  12. Andrew

    I literally don't understand how Islam is growing in the Western world. It has no appeal. Doesn't make any sense. People should try actually looking into it first instead of being swept up by the "religion of peace" bullcrap.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Romeo

      You mean "it has no appeal to Andrew". I am not Muslim, but I don't approve of people generalizing in an attempt to support a flawed argument. To each their own. Get over it.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  13. David M

    “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.”

    First, you don't have to be Muslim to say anything to God. They don't have the lock on Him. Second, it sounds like you were asking God to bless the decision you had already made, rather than seeking his guidance before the decision. Seems like you had the cart in front of the horse.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • rosh

      I agree with you David, no one has a lock on God/Allah/Bagwaan. As far Islam is concern, it hasn’t been in true form since the death of The Prophet Mohammad and the four righteous Caliphs. Since their death Islam was hijacked to benefit certain groups of people. They used Islam to gain power and wealth.
      Islam was revealed and implement for the welfare human kind and to abolish greed/capitalism. Today Islam has been corrupted by so called the sayings of Prophet Mohammed; all these ridiculous shariya laws are driven from them. To give you an example, Order to abolish slavery is in Quran, it is ordered that after war enemy can only be taken as a prison of war not as slaves. They should be released in exchange of ransom or release them out of good faith without any ransom, till then treat them as your guest. The word Zakat which is an Arabic word it means to provide nourishment for someone, and once that person is capable to sustain itself it there job give Zakat. Hence the cycle continues greed is finally abolished from the system, because everyone has been taken care off. There are many great scholars in do search on Dr. Shabir from ourbeacon and Dr. Alama Perwez.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  14. Ken Davis

    When we stop believing in invisible omnscient beings and realize we are really just mediating with our self concious only then will wars stop. Over 2000 yrs and every religion has commited attrocities in the name of their faith.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  15. poof

    Is he practicing up yet on the honour beating/honour killling? lol. I mean, is there like a starter kit or something?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • muslim in VA

      Religous beating and killing is actually not permitted in Islam contrary to what some people may think. I myself was born Muslim and no where in the Quran or in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him does it say it is ok to beat or kill someone for the sake of "honour."

      March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  16. Whammybar

    Religions are the result of the fear of the unknown.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Patricia Redstone

      And yours, just a moronic statement.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  17. silly

    "He was raised Christian in California..." is an oxymoronic statement.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • SMH

      ...said the Silly man.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  18. Beth

    These comments are ridiculous. Have you ever actually read any of the Quran? If you had you would know that the beliefs are basically the same as the Bible and not all Muslims are going to blow people up. There are radical Christians as well as radical Muslims...for example Westboro Baptist Church...now not all Christians would protest a soldier's funeral but that's because we're not all radical Christians. So who are we to say that every Muslim is going to blow up a building? Just an example of the ignorance of America and why George Bush was elected for a second term.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • silly

      ..and why Obama was elected a first time.
      God help us all!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Andrew

      The Qur'an is nothing like the Bible.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Xugos

      Andrew, I like how you only respond with one line. Care to explain why (and don't give me that copy pasted, one-verse BS.)

      March 25, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Harfnab

      The attempt at moral equivalence here is laughable at best and downright pathetic at worst.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Dave

      I don't know how misleading of a statement you could have made Beth about anything. There is NOTHING similar in Islam and Christianity. The Bible, from cover to cover is focused on one person, Christ, the Son Of God, the Creator of the Universe and the Second Person in the Godhead. Salvation, in the Bible comes from one source, Grace by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ..the Gospel which is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

      Islam denies that Jesus, was/is God. Islam denies salvation by Grace and Islam even denies that Christ died period. How different could you be? you just couldn't be anymore so

      March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • CliffDogg

      seriously, look at your comments – you're arguing over which thousands-year-old fairy tales are correct. it's 2011 people.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Infidel American Patriot

      I have read some of the quran. Sure most Muslims will not bomb a building, howeevr we are still all infidels unless we convert. That being said I believe that the "peaceful muslim" still rejoices each time an infidel is murdered in the name of mohammed. Islam has launched an attack on all fronts agains the infidael Americans and for us to turn a blind eye to that is outrageous and ignorant. Stand up and fight back America.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  19. Paul Hontz

    Why in the world would you feel the need to publishman article like this? Why?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Tammy

      That's a good question, I think it's because the goal is to try to get people to think muslims are really okay when they are NOT. As for this stupid kid, I'd say another one bites the dust.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  20. TG

    Muslims recognize Abraham as God's prophet and the promise made to him, that "by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves."(Gen 22:18) However, the Bible alone reveals the outworking of this promise by recording the dealings of God with Abraham and his descendants, showing the end result of a paradise earth at Revelation 21:3-5.

    In addition, only the Bible reveals God's name, Jehovah, being within its pages some 7000 times. Also, only the Bible gives details of his everlasting purpose for the earth, that it will be inhabited forever by those who are "meek".(Ps 37:11, 29; Isa 45:18) Only the Bible gives the true picture of why we die (Rom 5:12) and how mankind can be saved from Adamic death.(Matt 20:28)

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Frank In SA

      Good take TG!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Vanessa

      That is incorrect, have you read the Quran?

      March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • not an athiest but undecided

      To all the bible spouting people... you do understand the bible has been translated hundreds of times down the ages, and every time someone had to have changed something somewhere to fit their own personal views or values. Its like the game we all played in school called "Telephone". Line up in a row, whisper something in the first persons ear and continue whispering it down the line to the last person who always says something different than the first whisper.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • CliffDogg

      Oh, so only your book has the true, correct, complete Truth, and the other guy's doesn't....based on what? Everybody thinks they own the truth. That's the problem. (and sorry if your post was sarcastic, it's hard to tell these days the difference between a completely over-the-top sarcastic post vs. a fundamentalist or tea party member).

      March 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Eric

      Actually, Jehovah is a mistranslation of the Hebrew YHVH, which is the "unspeakable" name of God that only the High Priest of the Temple can speak in the confines of the inner sanctum of the temple.. In Jewish services, when someone is reading from scripture, they would actually say "Adonai" when they come across YHVH.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
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About this blog

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.