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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. youre itching your itching ear

    Colossians 2:8-10
    8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
    10And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power

    March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  2. Abel

    What about public executions of women every week in the Stadium for the entertainment of the Mullahs? I would call that a religion of peace!!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  3. conradshull

    Anybody can believe what they want, but this guy's "conversion" doesn't seem to have much theological underpinning, at least as reported in this article.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  4. Harfnab

    Funny how atheists spend so much time (literally years) on articles about something they don't supposedly believe in.

    You won't find me wasting time on a tooth fairy commentary, that's for sure.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  5. bmoney

    And the point is? Hillbilly Bob here has no real thought out ANYTHING about faith, Christianity or Muslim, and he made front and center CNN.com? Must be a slow day.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  6. neniatak

    That pretty much says it all for me. ..."Mohammed is the messenger of God.” Jesus IS God. God trumps the messenger.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Colin

      YEs, and snow white was so much prettier than cindarella.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  7. Tim

    religion equals enslavement...all religions were invented by man as a way of controlling the people. Laws were included and were credited to a creator so that few people would question them. Wake up, there is no "GOD" no afterlife and no reward for behaving or adhereing to some anciet set of rules. Be good because it's right, no because of some alleged reward inthe after life. Bellieve whatever fairy tales you wish but don't use them as a means for justification of violence against your fellow humans.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  8. Kael

    God loves the sinner but hates sin. He gives you many chances to do what is right, and if you think what you do is right, He will not ask for your blood. God is love and His message is to love one another as you would love yourself. He knocks on your door waiting for you to open. Jesus is about love and you are not forced into accept Him but only from your own mind and spirit.
    Islam: Kill anyone who does not agree with our religion. Blood, murder and terrorism all in the name of Allah.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • displeased

      Doesn't Christianity and Islam worship the same god? You all are like a bunch of spoiled children bickering at each other over whose belief is right. Remember, they're beliefs, not facts. It's sad how you all hate each other over what comes down to the unknown afterlife.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Not the Truth

      ..."Islam: Kill anyone who does not agree with our religion. Blood, murder and terrorism all in the name of Allah." -- Have you actually studied Islam? or are you only repeating what you hear? Don't "christians" do the same? On the dollar - In God We Trust, but God is no where else! The "christianity" practiced in the US is an adulterated one and not what Christ taught. You have "christians" who in the name of God start wars, kill people... what is so different about this? The real problem is that people want to be Christians their own way... everything and anything goes. Read the Bible. We should learn a thing or two from Muslims instead of criticizing them. Did Christ criticize? Did He bash other beliefs?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  9. Teddy

    that's the reason to support Obamacare, accessible drugs for everyone; this dude run out of pills and see what happens

    March 25, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  10. Joel

    Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Colin

      Eevr think for yourself, or just cut and paste?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  11. ana

    I always wonder what is there in other religion which is not there in yours, I think weak minded people wander looking for some kind of support to live their lives, I will take only those from my religion which is good for me and for others around me. I dont really need religion in my every second of life. I think insecurity is one of the reason why people keep changing their beliefs.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • jbris

      You have that slightly wrong...weak mindedness is what brings people to religion to begin with, regardless of religion.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  12. pbj

    Do we really loose anything by believing in God and at the end finds out there is none? Or Do we not believe and at the end finds out there is a God??? Hmmmm???? Only the bible proclaim "Jesus to be the way, the truth and the light-no one goes to The Father except through him (Jesus)"! And it is ONLY Jesus who died for humanity!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Colin

      Same old Pascal's Wager argument believers cart out when cornered. Yawn. Doesn't make it any more likely true. By this argument, you would believe in any god whose believers threaten eternal perdition to non-believers.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Mr. Mister

      Well, that's what all of his friends, who couldn't write, told people that could write years after his death. Oh, and then that was translated a whole mess of times. Then, kings got a hold of it and took out parts they didn't like (aka the parts that didn't fit their purpose when subjugating serfs), and then it was translated a couple of more times. That is your ultimate truth? It's basically the world's oldest form of the telephone game.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Dignity Of Men

      I was wondering about people who do not believe in any religion, how come when they die they want solemn/rites and even wear nice clothes on their burial. After all, it's pointless – they don't believe in anything. Why would they care wearing and rites; why not pay someone to dig a hole and bury them, plain and simple.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  13. The Truth

    Why all the bickering over which religion is correct? The creator of all things and One True God cares not whether you come to him through Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism as long as you open your heart to him through prayer. Religions tend to take things a step to far and allow themselves to become greater than God when mankind imprints his own system of beliefs into the equation. Faith is all that matters regardless of the path you choose to take.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Not the Truth

      John 14:6
      > Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

      March 25, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Dignity Of Men

      I will only open my heart to the God I know who cares and love his people and that is the one True God. Remember Abraham, who was tested by God on that rock to make a sacrifice (of his only son) but was stopped short by an angel – Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe that rock is sacred. This shows that God respects and love his creation – God does not send martyrs to blow themselves up and be rewarded with several virgins.

      Remember Abraham...

      March 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  14. fundies

    The inquisition! run!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  15. Dummy

    Didn't the Islamic prophet hack people to death with a sword? Not sure God would want you to do that. Jesus's message was easily understood, had nothing to do with what the biblethumpers interpret. If yopu are a true Christian, you follow the teachings of Christ, not the clowns that distort everything, pretty simple to me.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  16. Colin

    I give him about 18 months, then he will be off to another " absolute truth" – maybe Buddhism. Theological drifters rarely stay put for very long. The same dissatisfaction that drove his initial wandering will surface again. Like those guys in college who could never settle on a major.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  17. Rosemary

    Good grief ... You don't have to put your head on the ground to say anything to God.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  18. The Truth

    Why all the bickering over which religion is correct? The creator of all things and One True God cares not whether you come to him through Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism as long as you open your heart to him through prayer. Religions tend to take things a step to far and allow themselves to become greater than God when mankind imprints his own system of beliefs into the equation. Faith is all that matters regadless of the path you choose to take.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Yousef

      Amen to that!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • I agree

      I couldn't have said it better.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • stickyd

      too bad Muslims don't feel this way. They hate all others that are not Islamic!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • horace

      Faith in what? Whatever I want to believe? If we all believe in whatever suits us we all end up believing in nothing. You are the poster child for post-modernism. Don't lead others astray. point them to the truth if you know it, don't just point them to whatever truth they want to choose.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Ed

      Your premise is a man made fallacy. It is simply not true. There must be atonement for sin, with blood sacrifice which is fitting for the one true God. We are God's righteousness when we believe in his only unique son who died our deserving death, for we are all sinners. Jesus was and is God today, and he declared that he was the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the father but by him. Seek him, and you will find him.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Not the Truth

      John 14:6
      Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

      March 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • humblefollowerofjesus

      My understanding, as a Christian, is that the only way one can be forgiven for their sin is through Jesus. For the sake of all non-Christians out there I truely hope and pray that I am wrong. I pray to God that those people who follow the 11 commandments, even though they are not Christians, and repent when they stray from the ideal, can still be saved and enter the Kingdom and be called by name by Jesus.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  19. dmf

    As a women & Christian I find it interesting that this guy would change to Islam after watching "Not WIthout My Daughter" after knowing how they treat and value women. Women are nothing within their culture and have no value except to serve the man. That is not how God sees women nor how Jesus' treated women when he was on earth. I am sorry that he is so disillusioned that he would move backwards instead of forward in his thinking. I pity the poor women who would ever get involved with someone like him.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • displeased

      Christianity doesn't treat women with equal rights either. That's the point of religion, to control others. Women and children are the first targets, and you all don't even realize it.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Matt Torrez

      Yes, because Christianity has always been at the forefront of equal treatment for women also. Pssh.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • John

      Amen!! u just explained what's in my head.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • stickyd

      I'm not really sure what the idiots below are talking about. Comparing women's rights between Islam and Christianity is night and day.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Donna

      I think women should be alarmed at the amount of men converting to Islam, in America. Islam treats women like second class citizens who don't deserve to walk beside men, but behind them, who don't deserve education but should stay at home and and agree with everything her husband says and does. It really is no wonder in this day and age men would want to convert to this religion instead of following the Bible and respecting their wife and loving her as Christ loves the church.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • displeased

      Donna, are you describing Islam or Mormons?

      March 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Chris

      You equate Mulsim with the the acts you saw in a movie. Does that mean that if a movie is made about Timothy McVeigh Muslims should view his acts as Christian, or as how Americans are? You cannot sum up a population by the acts of a few. There are plenty of Christian men who beat their wives and molest their children. Not all, but at least some.

      Concluding and classifying entire races and religions based on the acts of a few is the essence of why we are in the predicament we are in today. For religion to supposedly be of peace and love, there sure is alot of hate and condemnation within it. It is no wonder that people question the validity of a religion when such conflicting messages are spewed from the pulpit. Fred Phelps, the crazy Westboro Baptist Church guy pickets and praises American solders' funerals. He claims to be a Christian. Does that mean that all soldiers should hate Christians because of his acts? that is essentially what you are saying. All I ask is that you and others think through the thoughts and conclusions before you decide it is right. Faith is not supposed to be about exclusion or condemnation, it is about peace, love, and acceptances. Somewhere, we steered way off course.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • nabel

      Muslims believe in 5 pillars and have 6 articles of faith.

      1. There is no God worthy of worship except Allah (The God) and Muhammad was his final messenger
      2. Prayer – Muslims pray to the one true God 5 times a day
      3. Zakat – (charity) Muslims pay 2.5% of savings too the needy, orphans, poor family member, homeless ecct.
      4. Ramadan – Muslims Fast from sun-up to sun-down during the holy month of ramadan.
      5. Hajj – pilgrimage to the holy city of mecca where the house of worship was built by the prophet Abraham

      6 articles of faith

      1- Belief in the Oneness of God:
      There is One God, Supreme and Eternal, Creator and Provider, Who is Merciful and Compassionate

      2- Belief in the Angels of God
      Angels are pure and spiritually obedient beings, created by God to fulfill His commands and worship Him tirelessly.

      3- Belief in the Revelations (Books) of God
      Muslims believe in the Revelations sent by Almighty God to His Prophets and Messengers including the Qur’an, the Torah, the Gospel, the Scrolls of Abraham and the Psalms of David. ( in their original forms)

      4- Belief in the Prophets of God
      All Messengers and Prophets of God such as Noah, Moses, Solomon, Jesus and Muhammad were mortal human beings endowed with Divine Revelations and appointed by God to teach humankind how to submit to His will and obey His Laws.
      (their original message)

      5- Belief in Resurrection after Death and Day of Judgment
      After the world ends, Muslims believe that all people who have died will be brought back to life (or, resurrected) in order to face the Judgment rendered to each of them by Almighty God. Muslims believe in an appointed Day of Judgment and in Heaven and Hell.

      6- Belief in Pre-measurement (Qadar)
      Muslims believe that Almighty God has knowledge of, and control over, everything that exists in all time and space.

      For more on Islam please read this ebook - http://askusaboutislam.com/suhail_kapoor_book.pdf

      Thank you for reading

      March 25, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  20. Raphael

    Soooo... he went from believing in one fiction story to another – and this made front page?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Ec1warc1

      The only thing factual about this story is that it is not newsworthy.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Ed

      Why is this story on the cover page of cnn? What a joke. This young man is obviously troubled and misguided, and he obviously never understood the teachings of Christ nor the realization that Christ is Lord.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Too true

      Well said!!!!

      March 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • OnCue

      I agree – Front page for this!... When there is more important things to discuss.. WOW. But it doesn't surprise me that the word Muslim, still grabs front page.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Mr.Speed

      Soooooooooo.
      You do understand this IS the belief blog, right???

      March 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • The Orkin Man

      It's good to see that it didn't take long for the atheistic vermin to come out of the woodwork.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:36 am |
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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.