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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. Shifan

    The truth is there is no way anyone can say this religion is right and that is wrong. All the religions in the world are based on belief. It should guide you to peace and harmony, ignore what the books say listen to your heart, question your self am i doing the right thing, be open minded. What religions do is close our minds, surround it with a strong barrier, without letting anything to come inside. If you can be a good kind hearted human being, does it matter what religion you are. You will know within your are right.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  2. MuslimLove

    68:1 Nun. By the pen and what they inscribe,
    68:2 You are not, [O Muhammad], by the favor of your Lord, a madman.
    68:3 And indeed, for you (O Muhammad) is a reward uninterrupted.
    68:4 And indeed, you are of a great moral character.
    68:5 So you will see and they will see
    68:6 Which of you is afflicted with madness.
    68:7 Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has gone astray from His way, and He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.

    Qur'an TRANSLATION

    http://w ww. youtube. com/watch?v=Q28qYvcwMvE
    remove spaces

    March 25, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  3. Omida

    The so called Muslims who do such atrocities are not representative of all Muslims. I am not a sociologist to know what make people to do those things (Muslims) but I have seen fanatic Christians who kill abortion doctors, or assassinate judges who allow a dying patient off the life support. I also have seen types of Jim Jones who murdered hundreds of his followers and a US senators. So don't tell me only Muslims do those crazy things in the name of their religion. I agree that we hear more atrocities from people claiming to be Muslim but we should realize that we have been messing up their region since 1952 (Iran Coup) for our own "interest". If you mess up any group of people long enough, you bound to see equally wrong reaction. Peace, Shalom, Salam !

    March 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  4. Gary

    Here is what Islam will do to your homes, your churches, your nation

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/24/thousands-christians-displaced-ethiopia-muslim-extremists-torch-churches-homes-2057387870/

    March 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  5. BocaJo

    I am a Christian and I know many people who are not Christians and say to myself what a wonderful world! Thanks to all of you for being part of my short lived life here on earth. I hope that when I am gone that you will look after my family as I would yours.

    March 25, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  6. Miaa

    Al-Humdulillah, congratualtions brother 😀 (Convert since 2003, masha'Allah)

    March 25, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  7. Docnotus

    Its a matter of faith. God desires all to be saved. Strait is the gate and narrow is the path that leads to salvation (heaven) few will find it. Broad is the path and wide is the gate that leads to perdition and many will be thereof. Believe it or not sad but too true.

    March 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  8. BocaJo

    There is only 2 kinds of people who turn me off in this world.
    1. Those who are intolerant of other peoples beliefs.
    2. the Dutch.

    March 25, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  9. openminds

    Why can't a prophet come after Jesus? Does it say anywhere in the bible that Jesus was the last prophet? There are clear indications in the bible that Mohammad was to follow Jesus and complete the chain of prophets from Adam, Abraham, Noah, David, Moses and all the others. Read your bibles with open minds. Don't deny Mohammad out of arrogance like Jews did to Jesus (May peace be on all these prophets). Please read this link to see where in the bible Mohammad is mentioned. http://www.islam101.com/religions/christianity/mBible.htm

    March 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  10. BocaJo

    The people of all beliefs and all faiths and no belief and no faith are of and off course here on earth. What is belief and what is real in fact you can not answer for all of us. Bottom line is this man has chosen a belief. A journalist chose to write about it, and we chose to make commentary of it. The reality exist that mortals will proclaim and journalist will exclaim. who needs cnn when you have facebook?

    March 25, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  11. Armgar27

    And why is this news??? Would this be newsworthy if this guy was a Muslim converting to Christianity? I think not.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  12. Workingman

    Another point to keep in mind is the distinction between speaking and believing. Muslims are commanded to fight unbelievers until they say they believe in Allah (or pay the Jizya), but there seems to be a tacit understanding that belief itself can't be forced (ie. "there is no compulsion in religion"). Nevertheless, once a subjugated individual outwardly converts to Islam under the strain of taxes and discrimination, they are not allowed to recant upon penalty of death. Their children must also be raised Muslim. And, if they aren't, then it is a sign of apostasy – subject to death.

    This is how Islam managed to spread so successfully within conquered populations to ratios in the high 90th percentiles over native religion.

    It is interesting to note that Muhammad's later practice of ordering people to profess their belief in him proved disastrous both for his own family and the legacy of his religion. By the time of his death, his empire included a great many people and tribes who had accepted his rule merely to avoid war and slavery. Many of them wanted out after he died, and several wars were immediately fought, resulting in thousands of deaths and cementing Islam's legacy of violent intolerance.

    Incredibly, even Muhammad's sworn enemy of Abu Sufyan may have gotten the last laugh. So ambitious was the prophet of Islam that he accepted his former foe's outward profession of allegiance (at the point of a sword) in order to expand his empire. Yet, it was Abu Sufyan's own children who ultimately benefited – at the expense of Muhammad's.

    Abu Sufyan's son, Muawiyah, inherited the empire after defeating Muhammad's adopted son, Ali. He also poisoned Hasan, one of the prophet's two favorite grandsons. Abu Sufyan's grandson, Yazid, became the next caliph and promptly had the head of Muhammad's other favorite grandson, Hussein, brought to him on a platter.

    Such are the perils of forcing others to say that you are a prophet, when they prefer to believe otherwise.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Sunnye

      What about the crusades and the murderous Inquisition? That was humankind at its worst.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  13. Barbara Paris

    Is this really worthy to post of your website? Who really cares what Matthew believes? If he were truly a Christian with Christian beliefs he would not had converted to Muslim, it's all about faith, guess he never was a real Christian.. I hope that Matthew finds himself facing the everafter with his beliefs, good luck Matthew.

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

    the amount of hate in these comments could only come from a religious debate. how very Godly. the irony of this insane debate between islam and christianity is that they are almost IDENTICAL religions!!! on a side note, isn't is mighty convenient that christians use the bible to support their beliefs? if I say I'm God and then cite my own writings, would that be sound reasoning?

    anyone dumb enough to think that you must be christian or muslim to attain salvation is simply put a baboon moron.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Seer

      Well said. Christianity and Islam formed in the same culture and from the same ancient myths (which you can find 3000 years earlier in Sumerian culture.) It's almost as though the two religions were created to make their followers feel right and superior so that they would fight with one another until the end of time. Oh, wait... that IS what they are doing. The truth is not that there is a right choice between the two but rather that the right choice is to discard religion completely for it is the creation of man, not God. As the Gospel of Thomas points out, you don't need to belong to a religion, go to a church, or even perform any rites or believe any dogma to find God. You need merely seek god within. This powerful secret, so disempowering to religion, caused this gospel to be left out of the Bible and nearly lost forever... because religion is a power structure, not a brotherhood of God-seekers.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Edward

      i'm gonig to have to disagree with you strongly on the point you made about Christianity and Islam being practically the same religion. this is far from the truth, no Christian would make that clailm and no Muslim would either. It just simply isn't true. do you honestly think you are right about what you said about Scripture and salvation? How would you know this? What exalted position of authority do you sight for your reasoning? Your self? So I am supposed to believe you...over a book that claims it is the revealed word of God and has been carefully exegeted and expounded upon for over 1400 years resulting in hundred of thousands, if not millions of people coming to the same conclusion, that Christ is the way to salvation? I appreciate your insight but ask that you refrain from calling us baboon morons for no other reason than just common courtesy. test out the Scriptures, you might be surprised what you find. God bless, i'll be praying for you (and i mean that in a legit way, not sarcastic).

      March 25, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  15. TAN

    BEING A MUSLIM MEANS – YOU ARE A 'JEW' , A CHRISTIAN' AS WELL AS A MUSLIM. A PERFECTION WHICH IS LONG OVER-DUE

    March 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Edward

      no offense sir, but this is not what being a muslim means. while it is true that the three religions are considered monothiestic, they are so very different on so many other levels. muslims, jews, and christians strongly disagree with each other in major ways, to the point that a syncretism of the three would reduce them to not actually being islam, judaism, and christianity in their traditional sense.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  16. sloopy

    So when will we get "air-time" for a Muslim who has converted to Christianity? Oh wait...we won't, because that would make us appear to be "intolerant" right?

    March 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  17. Fred

    So what comes next for Mathew? His fitting for a terror bomb vest?

    March 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  18. nando

    pobre wey, le lavaron el coco!

    March 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  19. Rabbi Malachi

    Judaism, Islam, Christianity....what's the difference? all are militant religions. All were spread by the sword. All are worthless and have simpletons as followers. Gopingo is right. Buddhism and Hinduism are the most peaceful.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • sean

      I'mnot aware of Christians or Jews flying airplanes into buildings.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Edward

      please man, enough with the hatred. I am a follower of Christ, I don't know you but I would never desire to hurt you or seek to be militant towards anyone. Faith, supported by reason, is what I seek and I hope that one day you will be introduced to an individual who can explain to you the central tenets of Christianity. God bless bro.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Yehia

      I know of a christian who caused world war 1, and another caused world war ii... i am aware of christians killing students in schools in america, i am aware of jews killing civilians in occupied palastine... stop fooling urself, Bin laden if he caused 911 was trained by thye CIA. so the source of all evil are u guys

      March 25, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  20. Dong Monger

    He has the blank look of a brainwashed idiot. All religion is fake, and was created to control man. You might as well worship the easter bunny. IDIOT.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Edward

      what's with the name calling? it seems as if your hatred is controlling you, especially if you venture to call another man an idiot simply because he is giving a testimony of what he believes in. i would suggest making yourself more familiar with the basic tenets of islam, judaism, and christianity before you make that judgment call. wise up man, respect others.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Seer

      The truth that all the ancient sages whose teachings founded the world's religions were trying to communicate is that the Divine is within us, that you find God by going inward and examining who you are. The fantasy that God is, as you put it, an "easter bunny" that exists outside you like some sort of projected parent complete with omnipotence, authoritarian control and punishment is just that: a fantasy created by those who didn't understand the sages and those who sought to use religion to empower and enrich themselves by controlling others. THIS is why this poor man looks dazed and glazed: he's waiting for someone to tell him what to do with himself, since he is completely disconnected from his own inner truth and Divinity. These are the people that religion preys on. There is nothing wrong with seeking God – and in fact those who have found God within themselves are amazing beings that bring light to those around them (Jesus being an example, but there are plenty alive today.) However, to think that religion will somehow tell you what matters and what to do with your life is setting you up to be a tool of others' ambitions.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • 3rdMLNM

      There is only one real GOD, who has thus created this UNIVERSE and His WORD
      in a "Superb Mathematical Language,"
      basically based on number "19" and the related Fibonacci Sequence, and the Golden Ratio!

      This is the one and only real GOD of Abraham, and his descendants (=Moses, Jesus, David, Muhammad);
      Here are the solid, testable and tangible "Ultimate Mathematical Proofs" for this,
      in this most anticipated Final Age, by that promised Messiah = Son of David & Son of Man,
      and Mahdee = Son of Muhammad,
      right here now:

      http://www.holy-19-harvest.com

      March 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Romes

      Who am I to judge another human being? I like any other human being is created to live for a limited time purpose. What I do with my life is what I do to my soul and for that I shal receive what I deserve. A lot of people does not accept Islam as the religion of peace.

      However have you? HAS ANYONE EVER WONDERED? Why is Islam the fastest growing relgion on the planet? I know there are a few black sheeps in the community whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu who use religion for their personal or political gains and that is their choice for they wronging their own souls and I bare witness to that now and on the Last Day.

      I was never muslim and never belived in Islam but reading the Quran opened my eyes to what a noble and pure it is. 99.99 out of 100 it talks about peace and humanity. It does not say that only Muslims go to heaven.

      If you read Surah Al Baqarah "The Cow" verse 62 it reads "Those who believe in the Quran, and those who follow the Jewish scriptures and the Christians and the Sabians, and who believe in GOD and the Last Day and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shal they grieve."

      The Quran is not only about Muslims its for the entire Manking. All you have to do is read it and you be the judge of it. Do not judge a book by its cover. Do not judge a human by his or her race or religion. We are only travellers through this life from the moment we are born to the moment we depart this life.

      It is only our will if we do wrong or good. Everyone likes to live in a Palace but have you forgotten about your grave? Everyone likes to be rich but have you forgotten for the accountabilties? Look at Bill Gates or Warren Buffett? Do you think they will take their money to the grave with them? I DO NOT THINK SO. You are born naked, you die naked. Windows 7 is not going to save Bill Gates in the grave nor is the investing policies of Warren Buffett gonna save him.

      Look it this world and what it has come too? Greed, Wars, Corruption, Killings. Like I said, there are a few black sheeps in the communities who are only doing it for their personal or political gains.

      Ya ALLAH take the wealth of this world from me in exchange for the hereafter. Amen

      March 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Mr. Nas

      Well, I am sad to see how my nation (because of their religious agenda) have hate for their follow American Muslims (including Muslim children), for the fear that Americans are learning and moving toward Islam.

      On the other hand, (Because of my strong knowledge about the Middle East, I followed the Egyptian Revolution very closely,) I was amazed how Muslims in Egypt (95% of the population) when security fall lose, Muslim citizens went to guard streets, mosques, and Churches. During that, not even one Christian person was harmed, while there were no cops on streets at all.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
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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.