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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. James from Tennessee

    Please do not take these narrow minded minded and hurtful actions by some of the people in our community to be representative of the citizens in middle Tennessee. I saw the development of this story unfold every night on the local and national news, and every time you saw it, it was just mind boggling. The opposition has no legal or moral ground for taking away these citizens rights. They wasted a ton of tax payers money fighting to deny their fellow neighbors rights as people and citizens. I just hope that this story will encourage others to not allow this kind of ignorance to go unchallenged in their own communities.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • PCollen

      I agree Jim. I'm not even going to watch that show as I interface with enough bigoted rednecks daily not to have to see them in my off-time. Muslims have the same right to build their "church" as do Baptists, Episcopals, Jews, and other religions (except that I did disagree with their plans to build that "church' in NYC by Ground Zero). There is a muslim "church" in my area and it's no problem..they go to theirs on Friday, and I go to mine on Sunday. When I worked in Texas, Mulim co-workers would bring me back falafal sandwiches on Friday afternoon when they returned to work after their prayer service..good stuff. I worked in Egypt, travelling all over the Delta region installing microwave systems for the Elec Authority, and NEVER had an issue with them or their religion..in fact, I had a great time and made quite a few friends.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  2. Brian

    We do practice what we preach...I pray for these people daily in my heart. I don't hate these people, I am scared of them. I don't like that they hate me and want me dead for not believing the same way...Everyone loves to preach about the history of Christianity...yeah, that was HORRIBLE. Do you see that going on now ? The Crusades ? How long ago was that ? Doesn't make it right ,...but how long ago was it ? And did ANY of us Christians have ANYTHING to do with it ? How many Muslims have been murdered or beheaded by Christians in the USA, the UK, or EGYPT, or Pakistan, or Turkey ? NONE ? Ok...now reverse that...how many Christians have been murdered in these countries ? Who do YOU think is more tolerant ?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Steve, the real one

      Brian,

      Fear is a lack of faith. Drop the fear! Fear no man! Keep praying and trust God! The Bible says" Greater is he in me than he in the world" . Brian, if you are a Christian, the GREATER One dwells in you! Be blessed!

      March 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • graygurl

      But how can people follow a religion that started like Christianity did? It doesn't matter that those things happened a long time ago. Those awful things are how the religion originated.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Steve, the real one

      Graygurl,

      Christianity did not start off as what Brian described. Just like anything else can be abused and misused, so was the faith! Again, that is NOT how Christainity started!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  3. kuwait_999

    Tabari IX:131 "My mother came to me while I was being swung on a swing between two branches and got me down. My nurse wiped my face with some water and started leading me. When I was at the door she stopped so I could catch my breath. I was then brought in while the Messenger was sitting on a bed in our house. My mother made me sit on his lap. Then the men and women got up and left. The Prophet consummated his marriage with me in my house when I was nine years old."

    I gave up on the child rapist!

    Now I am following Christ's teaching. Am feel much peaceful, appreciate life, appreciate all people around me.

    In Jesus I trust!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Steve, the real one

      kuwait_999

      Now I am following Christ's teaching. Am feel much peaceful, appreciate life, appreciate all people around me.

      In Jesus I trust!
      ------
      Welcome to the family!

      March 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  4. Stephen Wynne

    After 30 years of drinking cow milk, I switched to soy milk. I wonder if CNN will write an article about me too? What are you trying to say CCN? What are you trying to say?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  5. Worthy of News

    My daughter once switched from Christianity to be a buddhist. Later, she switched to be a wiccan (sp?). She is now back to be a Christian. Do you think that maybe during one of her future switches, she could get an article written about her by you guys?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  6. Hollybush123

    From one patriarchal, anti gay and anti woman religion to another. Why is this news? Get a life people and stop leaning on organized pap to make you feel better.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  7. abd

    Thank you CNN from all muslims around the world. You try to attack islam by your ongoing articles, and allow people to attack islam days and nights, but guess what, even though you have bad intentions, but without your help most people would not be interested in islam, you made people read more and more about islam, and tens of thousands of americans convert to islam every year, so THANK YOU, if Islam was about terrorism then none of the non-mulims will be alive right now, becasue there is 1.5 Billion muslims in the world, so can you imagine if we are really terrorists!!?? Allah created muslims and non-muslims, so does it make sense that he asked us (muslims) to kill non-muslims, the answer is NOPE, why would he created non-muslims in first place if he wants us to kill you...right??? islam is about peace, no body is forcing anybody to become a muslim, and honestly I don't give a damn if any non-muslim convert to islam or not, if they do that is good for them, not to me, if they don't, I don't loose anything, that is why I don't give a damn.... thank you Allah

    March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  8. CSB

    This is a bait blog and there are a lot of biters taking the bait and sharing their cultural hate. Only in America does ignorance trump reasoning.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  9. max

    dont take this as a slap against a specific religion because i dont follow one.

    i have always been curious as to why muslims hold the messenger of god in such high esteem? muslims hold him at the same level as christians hold christ, whom they deem the son of god. i purposely didnt type the name as i (mistakingly?) am under the impression that is considered an insult.

    this question is spurred by the conversion statement mentioned in the article.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • graygurl

      That is a good question. Why not worship God instead of his son or messenger? I am not that educated on religions but I think the Jesish religion worships God and doesn't believe that Christ was the son of God. Is that correct?

      March 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Steve, the real one

      graygurl
      That is a good question. Why not worship God instead of his son or messenger? I am not that educated on religions but I think the Jesish religion worships God and doesn't believe that Christ was the son of God. Is that correct?
      -------
      Graygurl,

      You appear to honestly want to know. I wil share with you. We Christians believe that Jesus is God! From John Chapter 1:

      1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
      2 The same was in the beginning with God.
      3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

      v1 So far the Word was from the beginning, with God, and Was God.
      v2. Again te word was from the beginning with God
      v3. The Word is the Creator

      10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
      11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
      12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
      13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
      14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

      Vs10-11. The Word lived among His creation but was rejected
      v12. those that believe on the Word has te power to becomes the sons (and daughters )of God
      v14. The Word took te form of flesh (was a human) and had the glory of the only begotten of the Father (Jesus Christ). So according to John 1, Jesus is God!

      I hope that helps! We do not worship 2 or 3 gods, we Worship but one! The Triune God!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  10. Nadir Ajaz

    Greetings to all, Why do people bash this kind of story? Even if there are a bunch of extreme people in this world, of all religions, why bash a story of a man who has found inner peace? Shows how people think, all they want is stories of thrill and action, and when they get it they complain. I suggest people read and learn about a particular topic before they speak. Islam defends; just like any Human would defend his home or family from intruders. Think outside the box people!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  11. Hassan

    For all those who thinks Islam is a religion of hate, do you see hate in Matthew Miller. Looks like he found peace and the true religion. PLease don't listen to the Judeo-Christians, pick up a Quran and just read it. MAybe you will see the light. If you don't then it is not for you. But you tried understanding the Quran.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Nadir Ajaz

      Agree!

      March 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • graygurl

      I think I will. Is the Quran easier to read and interpret than the Bible? I am interested in educating myself about religions. Also, I believe in live and let live, I have nothing against anyone except ignorant people who like to run their mouths.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Workingman

      Hassan,

      Faith without works is dead, the works of Islam are violence. Islams faith is dead because thier god, prophets and works are all dead. Mathew Miller is in the first stages of Islam, he sees acceptace because he has joined Islam. He will be trained to only accept those who convert, his character and his works will be that of violence towards those who do not see Muhammad as the mouth of God. Violence comes in many forms, from hiden internal anger all the way to murder, if obtainable.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • ThereisnoGod

      Why not pick up a science book and understand that.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  12. dougo

    SAD you can talk to God all you want as a Christian...not sure what the point of this story is

    March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  13. Richard

    Ah religion . . . the Inquisition, the Martyrs, the Conquest of the New World, the Crusades, the 'Conversion' of the Masses by Mohammed, Holy Israel, Holy Palestine, a flood of blood and destruction the belies all their cries of 'Peace, Peace', 'Love, Love' . . . Judiasm, Christianity and Islam more alike then different. Just read the history books.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  14. Brian

    We do practice what we preach...II pray for these people daily. I don't hate these people, I am scared of them. I don't like that they hate me and want me dead for not believing the same way...Everyone loves to preach about the history of Christianity...yeah, that was HORRIBLE. Do you see that going on now ? The Crusades ?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  15. Matt

    That makes me sick. I don't care what religion you believe in, but if you're a devoted Christian and all of a sudden by a simple conversation you become a muslim, or vise-versa, something's not adding up. I feel like it should take years to even consider changing faith. There's a lot more to faith than what feels good all of a sudden.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Vlad

      Article never says he was a devoted Christian. It says he was raised Christian. It means that he never chose Christianity, he jjust happened to be born in a Christian family.

      So when he realized that he has a choice, he chose some other religion. Looks perfectly sensible to me.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Son of man

    This guy is a weak... and we don't any punks on our team. The Editors are a joke... This is a bias,ignorant,negative, statement ...
    All because I am 777% INFIDEL!

    P.S LONG LIVE THE KING!
    J.C

    March 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  17. MbClemen

    Matthew, follow your heart no matter what anyone says. God gave you eyes to see for yourself and a mind to think for yourself. I am not Muslim. I'm about half way through the Quran. It is one of the most beautiful books I have found.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  18. Tobing Apul

    He had not really strong Christian faith foundation before, and now changes faith to islam and still has a weak foundation we can see when he said at the end of conversation "'Well you know, I don’t know anything about Islam.”, what a bad decision he made, lose his salvation Jesus Christ.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Resist710

      Wow, do you know how to read? Re-read that part of the article. He's talking about his soldier friend, NOT himself.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Sam

      Did you even read the article or just skip down to the bottom of it?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Read the story

      No, you are incorrect. Re-read the story. Mathew is not the one who said this line. The person who said "I don't know anything about Islam" is an Iraqi war veteran. Please read the whole story before commenting. Thank you.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • ahmad

      heads up
      the one who said that he didnt know that much about islam was the Iraq war veteran not Miller himself
      actually read the article before making comments like that

      March 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • A Mom

      The article states that Matthew was raised in a Christian home. Yet when he told his mom that he was Muslim she responded, "whatever makes you happy". Makes me doubt that Matthew or the mother ever had a relationship w/ Jesus. A Christian mom would more likely say something like this..."I love you, I love the Lord, and I am going to pray for you in your search". She would then go to the mat and intercede for her son because she knows her prayers are heard and it is only by His spirit that her son, who obviously is searching, is going to find the truth.

      Oh, and it was the Iraqi war vet who said, "I don't know anything about Islam".

      March 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  19. ThinkOutsideTheBox

    1 Timothy 4 : 1-4

    1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

    2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

    3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.

    4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

    March 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • kidwond3r

      we are faced with the end of days...its drawing near...good work, def thinking outside the box

      March 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  20. Valerie

    You know, I am really disappointed in how ignorant Americans can be. You hear the words "Islam" or "Muslim" and all you think about is 9/11. 9/11 was a terrible tragedy, but it was a small group of muslim extremists. Islam is a peaceful religion and is very similar to both Christianity and Judaism. I just wish people would do their research before making such hurtful and prejudicial comments.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • TD7777

      Its not just Americans who hate Muslims.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Valerie

      your point TD7777?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Mark B.

      Valerie,
      Your disappointment is misplaced. If you learn ANYTHING about Islam, you will find it an intolerant, violent and hate-filled ism. Women are property and believers are encouraged to kill non-believers by eternal reward. THAT is disappointing.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • sherry

      Valerie,

      Yes, there is truth to that. I think 10% of any given population tends to ruin it for the other 90%. However, having spent extensive time in the Middle East, I understand the real danger of Muslims who believe in jihad and will go to any length to achieve it. I don't claim to understand it, but it is a very real threat that such people could infiltrate themselves into such an environment. But yes, most Muslims are peaceful and many who despise Americans do so because of propaganda created by those Muslims with ill intent. Such a shame.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Valerie

      Actually Mark, I know A LOT about Islam. I've read many books and part of the Quran.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Valerie

      I completely agree Sherry.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • TD7777

      My point is that I see a lot more bad coming out of Islam than good. Other religions are not much better, but I dont read a lot about Buddhist, Shinto, Hindu or Catholic suicide bombers.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • graygurl

      I agree. People should do some unbiased research into other religions before they speak about them. I get tired of hearing people argue about who is right and wrong. The Southern Baptists seem to be the absolute worse about slandering other religions.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Winner Winner Sheen Dinner

      While I read those words and wish them to be true, it's the actions of the Muslim world in which they are measured. Where was the outrage after 9/11 from the Muslim world? Where were the Muslim leaders who denounced the attacks as though the rest of Islam weer separate from these terrorists? Where are the Muslims who wave the U.S. flags in the streets in a show of patriotism when the U.S. is under seige? Why do leaders of Islam speak to others and preach tolerance of their faith, yet look the other way in silence when members of their own religion mame or kill other Muslims if they dare want freedoms that do not include Islam? It's not the words of the Muslim people that has me worried, it's the silence.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Resist710

      Women are property in certain cultures that may claim to be adherents of Islam. However, women are not property in actual Islam. In fact, Islam was the first religion to formally grant womens rights. Instead of spouting off propaganda that's been fed into your brain, maybe you should go and do some research on your own.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Valerie

      Here's just one example TD:

      http://articles.exchristian.net/2002/10/how-many-people-have-been-killed-by.php

      March 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • max

      there are radicals of all religions. i dont know that islam is a religion of peace. i doubt that many religions can make that claim. look at some of the radicals on here that seem a half inch from violence and arent muslim....

      March 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Jared F

      While only a very small minority of Muslims commit jihadist acts, polls show across the board that the majority of Muslims agree with the acts, and rightfully so! This is decreed explicitly in the Koran. Read Sam Harris, these stereotypes are not unfounded.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • TD7777

      Regardless Val, I am just not a big fan of Islam. Also, if the religion seems attractive to people that look as clueless as that guy in the artice, its another strike against them.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Workingman

      Faith without works is dead, the works of Islam are violence. Islams faith is dead because thier god, prophets and works are all dead. Mathew Miller is in the first stages of Islam, he sees acceptace because he has joined Islam. He will be trained to only accept those who convert, his character and his works will be that of violence towards those who do not see Muhammad as the mouth of God. Violence comes in many forms, from hiden internal anger all the way to murder, if obtainable.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Workingman

      2:228 "(Women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them."

      2:282 "And call two witness from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not at hand, then a man and two women."

      4:3 "Marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four."

      4:11 "To the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then theirs is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half."

      4:15 "As for those of your women who are guilty of lewdness, call to witness four of you against them. And if they testify (to the truth of the allegation) then confine them to the houses until death take them."

      40:20 "And if ye wish to exchange one wife for another...."

      4:34 "Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them."

      4:176 "Unto the male is the equivalent of the share of two females."

      24:31 "And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands. ... And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment."

      33:30 "O ye wives of the Prophet! Whosoever of you committeth manifest lewdness, the punishment for her will be doubled, and that is easy for Allah."

      33:32-33 "O ye wives of the Prophet! Ye are not like any other women. ... Stay in your houses."

      33:53 "When ye ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not for you to cause annoyance to the messenger of Allah, nor that ye should ever marry his wives after him. Lo! that in Allah's sight would be an enormity."

      33:59 "O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad)."

      65:1 "O Prophet! When ye (men) put away women...."

      66:5 "If he [Muhammad] divorce you, will give him in your stead wives better than you, submissive (to Allah), believing, pious, penitent, devout, inclined to fasting, widows and maids."

      March 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Workingman

      What the Bible says about Women's Rights

      Genesis 3:16
      Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

      Isaiah 3:12
      As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.

      1 Corinthians 11:3
      But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

      1 Corinthians 14:34-36
      Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

      Ephesians 5:22-24
      Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

      Colossians 3:18
      Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

      1 Timothy 2:11-15
      Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.

      1 Peter 3:1
      Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
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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.