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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. OnanismO

    Carbon dating may be flawed but NOT with such a margin for error that 30,000 years could be mistaken for merely 6,000.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • OnanismO

      Sorry this was meant as a reply to another post but it didn't make it.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  2. DC

    Like the Catholic Church is to Christians, so is there evil in Islam. Satan gathers his minion from both sides and whispers hate and lust into the hearts of men. Islam will never be free until they release the bonds of captive women.

    –DC

    March 25, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  3. Pete

    All religions that espouse their beliefs as the only possible ones, criticizing and condemning those that don't believe, are a bunch of crap.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  4. John The Greek Priest

    I as a Greek Orthodox Priest would like people to investigate the life of Mohammed, he by the account of Muslim sources killed 660 people, had many wives including a 9 year old, There is no evidence for the truth of Islam, in fact 6 million Muslims convert to Christianinty a year, why are muslims so afraid of religous freedom? death to anyone who converts, becaause if the claims of Jesus are looked at muslims will convert, There is much evidence for Christ and his resurrection, wee Case for Christ bt Lee Strobel, Islam is a faalse religion that supresses women and all others, we greeks were enslaved by them for 500 years, This young man will lose his soul unless he returns to Christ...

    March 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  5. Jesus of Nazareth

    What's sort of funny is how you Christians complain about how dumb this guy is when you sound exactly the same. Just because your parents dropped you off in front of a building two weeks after you were born doesn't make you right. It just makes you indoctrinated. Arguing this stuff using scripture is like arguing with someone about Star Trek folklore, it's a complete waste of time. It's all made up.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  6. Murali-Devavrata

    The only path for anybody who is seeking truth is Hinduism. Christianity and Islam are full of hatred. While both these religions claim that there is only path to reach the truth, Hinduism provides multiple choices. Isn't it how humans are made of? Having different faiths, beliefs, thoughts, ways of life, paths. But none of the religions except Hinduism provides you path for every beliefs you have. You can be Atheist and still be a Hindu. Christian Church and Islamic fundamentals are simply ridiculing Hinduism as 'Pagan', while nobody has read any of the scriptures.

    Read Swami Vivekananda's Complete Works and you will understand that Hinduism is the basis of all religions and it has answers for every question in this world.

    Do not fight over what is good or bad? Do the right thing. Choose the Sanatana Dharma (The Path from the Beginning) and you will attain peace and tranquility. You will get out of the materialistic cage and lead a great life!!!!

    March 25, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • John The Greek Priest

      Hinduism is a dark religion , the hindu gods are demons, read the book The Young Man, The Guru and Father Paisios, a young man went to India and saw what hinduism really is a religion that keeps people in filth, poverty, and spiritual darkness. I have just baptized a whole hindu family who I taught the truth of Jesus Christ.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  7. MJ

    I am so happy for mathew that he is a Muslim, he is lucky. Allah guide only whom he likes. Keep carry on your Iman until your last breath.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  8. antireligiousfreak

    I've often wondered if god is simply an alien super-being who's shown itself throughout human history. The super-being simply tried to give us a few rules that basically tell us to be nice to each other, but man has taken those words and added, edited and misunderstood them for all the future generations to later fight over, argue meanings and say 'my god is better then your god'
    Hence hundreds of wars in religions' name, millions dead and all the alien wanted was for us to be nice to each other.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  9. poopie doopie

    Islam ... the religion of pieces.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  10. no gods

    From one myth to another.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  11. piers

    Religion is just to bond people together. Make them fear that doing some wrong thing is punishable by god. Real faith is in being a real human being, helping each other and not killing your self in the name of religion and taking revenge.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  12. Jim

    http://islamtruths.com

    March 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  13. LC

    Soeldad O'Brien is SUCH a bleeding heart liberal. She knows nothing of the experiences of these people she so gratuitously profiles fro ratings. She's a false, talking head idiot. Se never asks the tough questions, sugar coats most material, and reaches ridiculous conclusions. She just thinks EVERYONE has a right to be this and be that ! No, Soledad...that's not the country we live in. Majority rules. Get over your talking head, mixed message self !

    March 25, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • mick

      This is a free country you do have the right to choose what religion you want.contrary to popular belief this isn't a christian country ask the Native Americans whose land was stolen from them wake up stupid f>ckin rednecks the christian religion you claim to follow is false and an affront jesus is ashamed America will answer for its sins soon enough you people better wake up your judgement is at hand

      March 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  14. Mudfoot

    I guess when we die, we will find out who got it right. And no that doesn't mean run out and blow yourself up to find out immediately!!!!

    March 25, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  15. chuckmartel

    This islam converts first intro to islam was the Sally Field movie? As suspected, this guy is just not very bright and seems to have no knowledge of the world he lives in. The Sally Field movie was based on a true story and it is a matter of record that there are many more such cases of dizzy broads marrying such islami pigs. The PC neanderthals and their islami brethren just can't deal with the facts. The sad part are the kids caught in the middle and in some cases are imprisoned in these dark age wastelands thanks to their dizzy broad mothers.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  16. educe22

    I have Americans friends who have been in the Middle East since the 80's, and have had jobs in prestigious positions for three decades. They share their Christian faith with Muslims and have had many, many converts to Christianity because Islam is missing Jesus, who said, "No man comes unto the father but by me." He is the only one who rose from the dead – Mohammad didn't, nor Buddah, nor anyone else who claimed to be God. Interestingly, these Muslim converts (in the Middle East) have to go undercover or they will be ostrasized, beaten, etc. and, yet, that doesn't happen in America. Why is that? Why do Islamists demand in Egypt, and many other such nations, that this be done both to Christians (my friends have narrowly escaped persecution numerous times) and Muslims who convert, and why are they so brutal in what they do. If Islam were truly a peaceful religion, these things would not go on. Read books by Ravi Zacharias – check your library.

    March 25, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  17. TAN

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE! WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE HUMANITY TO USE THEIR COMMON SENSE AND ACCEPT TRUTH. THIS WILL ELIMINATE ALL HATE WHEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT FAITH WITHIN A FAMILY AND SOCIETY. I DO BELIEVE AND SEE TRUTH THAT MOSES, JESUS AND MOHAMMED WERE THE 3 MESSENGERS SENT FOR DIFFERENT GENERATIONS WITH THE SAME MESSAGE BY THE 'ALMIGHITY'. WE CANT HIDE THE TRUTH AND ALL WILL REALIZE ONE DAY.

    March 25, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  18. david

    if he were a christian then he would know that his first experience with islam in bowing in prayer at the mosque is anti christian- for Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is the only way into heaven " I am the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. so from early on he rebelled against the Christian BIble. I have read parts of the quaran and i have to say its mumbo jumbo riddle of a non sense to me. the prophet was a pedophile who married a 9 year old girl, it gets worse, it claims jihad for the infidels. this is why the WTC mosque initiative claims to be about peace but then has ties to radical groups, or the New york TV program that was to show us how nice muslims can be...the studio manager then cut his wifes head off. i believe in was in the news last year. im not saying all muslims are hateful and want to kill us, but if their mosque leaders turn around and command jihad, my question is, will they obey? anyone that knows their history can agree that allah is the moon god, one of many gods that were worshipped in mecca. the real GOd is the one of the BIble, loving yet holy and merciful, but He will judge everyones sin on judgement day. this is why Jesus had to pay the price for our sins for we can not pay it. there is no money, no gold, no good deeds that can wash our sins away. Jesus sacrifice on the cross , beleiving in a loving God that would pity us as such, is the ticket into heaven.

    March 25, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Derek

      Has anyone noticed how the Christian god seems very egotistical? Only one way? Believe or burn? Unbaptized babies and everyone who lived before Christianity was a religion burn also (or go to limbo)? Sounds like the typical stereotypes of Islam to me.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  19. Magick

    Becca stated:

    "ISLAM WANT US TO BELIEVE IN THEIR GOD ALLAH. THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT DOING GOOD FOR YOUR FELLOW MIND. THEY ARE SADISC AND CRUEL AND WANT WORLD DOMINATION. THEY WANT TO DESTROY US"

    then said:

    "YOU WON'T BE SO HAPPY TO BE AN ATHIEST WHEN JESUS THROWS YOU INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE WITH HIS RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND"

    Does anyone else see the irony here?

    March 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • TAN

      MAGICK, YOU HARBOR FALSE BELIEFS. YOU NEED TO KNOW THE TRUE ISLAM WHICH IS FAR FROM WHAT WE ARE PORTRAYED BY SOME MEDIA. BELIEVE ME – I TOO WAS SURPRISED WHEN I FIRST INTRODUCED MYSELF TO ISLAM. IT BELIEVES IN NOAH, IBRAHIM, MOSSES, JESUS AND MOHAMMED AS MESSENGERS OF 'LORD' SENT AT VARIOUS TIMES TO GUIDE HUMANITY FROM GOING ASTRAY. THE MESSAGE ACROSS THE BOARD IS SAME – PEACE. IT JUST BEING INTERPRETED WRONGLY BY THE POLITICAL ISLAMICS. TRUE ISLAMICS HAVE NO INTEREST IN THIS WORLD AND ITS CONTENTS – THEY BELIEVE IN PLEASING THEIR LORD PEACEFULLY AND INVITING FELLOW BEINGS TOWARDS HEAVEN.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  20. angie

    So what are you saying? When you get divorced you turn in your library card? You get a new license? You stop being Jewish?
    Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax...
    You're goddmn right I'm living in the fcking past! Shomer shabbos!

    March 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • KickSave1980

      You brought a dog bowling?!

      March 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • luckluck

      being a Muslim means your a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:18 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.