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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. person

    None of this crap makes sense.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  2. Logic

    Try going to Arabia and converting to Christianity, you will be stoned to death.... Ironically, the real strength in Christianity is its allowing it's adherents to choose any religion they want. Praise to you Lord Jesus for giving us the freedom to choose.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Sal1943

      The Saudis are a good case of intolerance. They need to move on and change their repressive laws.

      Christianity has moved on from the the times of the Inquisition when under the cross people were mercilessly slaughtered, in South America and Mexico and in Spain where Jews and Muslims had to face certain death or convert or be banished and where did most Jews go? Surprise, surprise! To Morocco and Turkey, where the Sultan made the famous comment, that the Spanish King could not be very wise man. He has sent all of the brilliant people to my kingdom.

      Jesus to Muslims is one of the prophets like Abraham and Moses. There is only one Lord and the concept of the trinty is kinda difficult to grasp.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  3. Sal1943

    As Rumi put it: It is the same light, we have put different color shades. Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all based on a belief in God and have all the same prophets. There is more mention of Mary in the Koran than in the Bible. Of course Christians and Jews do not accept Muhammad as a messenger and Muslims do not believe Jesus was the son of God. They revere him as a prophet. God they do not believe has sons and daughters.

    Do we really need to fight wars and hate one another over all of this?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  4. B Nakka

    I would be really happy when people will renounce organized religion as a whole and find their own inner peace, but I want my cake and eat it too......

    March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  5. disenchanted

    What about just believing in God? Raised a Catholic, I can't understand why anyone adheres to a belief in God through some "earthly" messenger, be it prophet, son, deity, etc. Religion is a box people like to dwell in, so they have something to cause trouble with. If any religion is real, then why so many? They are all a cult.

    The God I believe in won't reject imperfect people who've sinned, who are gay, who've had an abortion, etc. I have faith in a God who will judge me fairly based on how good/bad I've lived my life and the directions my moral compass has led me. If I'm wrong, oh well, then I guess it won't matter because I'll be dead anyway.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  6. doug

    Battle of the Invisible Sky Wizards. LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEE!!!!!

    You're talking to an imaginary friend. And you're adults. And it doesn't strike any of you as odd.

    And you vote.

    That's the scary part.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • JamisT

      Of course – and for 2,000 years vast numbers of adult humans have had this relationship with this so-called "imaginary friend". And yet somehow you've managed to see past all this, and can prove beyond any doubt that all these billions of people have been wrong. What a colossal, towering intellect you must be. And the corollary that this belief somehow renders these billions of people unfit to vote – truly a logical triumph.

      Please. The only thing worse than an arrogant believer is an arrogant atheist.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  7. alexis

    i celebrate Pagen holidays... aka... christmas .. easter.. with out going to church.. since all these holidays started with out the church .. why ruin a good thing... i laugh when i see a "he is the reason for the season" pin .. please please please READ A BOOK on history . read several.. just dont go by the word of a cry baby hill billy preacher who wants your money for his new boat or house ... WAKE UP!!! Egypt had 44 commandments... all 10 of moses are in there .. 2000+ years before the read sea was parted ... just do right by your self and others ... that is the only religion i will ever need ... or want

    March 25, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Zebula

      Amen to that!

      March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  8. AmericanPiex

    HAHA, It burns white people to see one of their own turn sides, and they way this guy is really just rubs it in. He's just a regular Joe from a regular American background. Islam doesn't have any limits on where it spreads, you can't stop it. Talk all the trash you want but seeing Islamic history it will spread and it will overcome all adversities. Even inside the very nation that attacks it.

    Hate all you want, your fumes will just drive this steam engine even stronger. 🙂

    March 25, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  9. nell

    I'm betting he never gave Christianity a fair chance. His loss.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • AmericanPiex

      "fair chance" you mean like growing up Christian and being involved in the church community to depth he was involved?

      I think he saw all he needed to see, and there wasn't much so he moved on.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Kiljoy616

      He is a mental patient who need medication Islam will give him the crazy believe he need. Oh well I am sure we will hear from him in the future.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  10. Ron from Jersey

    I will pray for Matthew Miller because he really has no idea what he is getting into or what he is standing for.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • RichC

      Yeah, too bad people aren't as open minded as Christians........rolls eyes

      March 25, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • greg

      He's probably on his way to Pakistan for his "specialized" training.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  11. Darwin

    I find it amusing that Christians try to claim that Mohammed promotes force and violence in the Qoran but Jesus is a man of peace. They forget that Jesus very clearly states that he comes NOT IN PEACE BUT WITH THE SWORD. (Matthew 10:34
    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.)

    March 25, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  12. American

    A Christian changing teams is not news. Muslims changing to Judaism or Christianity would be news but that would be to inflammatory of CNN. People who are searching for faith do it everyday.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  13. Tom R

    Can you say LOST?

    "but if it makes you happy and it’s what you feel is the right way, then there’s nothing I can do.’” There's nothing in Islam that makes you feel happy.

    Read the Qu'ran and you'll see how welcome you feel. You'll won't find one verse in the Qu'ran about forgiveness, grace, mercy, or love.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • bubbyboy

      Amen to that...

      March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • AmericanPiex

      Sorry but dude but your completely wrong,
      "Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant." (Quran, 7:199)
      "God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact God loves the equitable." (Quran, 60:8)

      March 25, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • john

      I love all of these stories about how misunderstood and bullied Muslims are. I'm glad Muslims never bully and intimidate people, and I sure am glad that white people are never victims of bullying.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Judy

      Why don't you read it? You will find that you are ABSOLUTELY WRONG. Turn off the FOX News and read the Koran, I dare you!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  14. Amin Jiwani

    I must say that whatever we see in today's world is clash and conflict of ignorance. Western world under the influence of the arrogant leadership and media, has developed an islamicphobia and on the other hand Muslims have forgotten the real teachings of Quran and the prophet that asks for tolerance and forbearance . The faith of a Muslim is not completed without having faith in prophet Jesus, prophet Moses and the books (bible and Torah ). A Muslim is bound to believe in all the
    prophets, books, angels and day of resurrection and has to respect human life and environment. The western world and leadership has never tried to understand the religion of Islam and forgotten in it's arrogance to one basic principle: first
    understand and then be understood. Today we need a leadership that can understand the value of co-exixtence rather than using force to eliminate the opponent. Change imposed is always change opposed. Let us create a society where a better
    understanding of each others beliefs and values is promoted. Let us see the common points where the hands can be joined for the betterment of the generations of the future. Muslim leaders should promote jihad against poverty and illiteracy, jihad for improving environment within their countries, jihad for the protection of minorities living among them rather than promoting enmity of western world. There is a lot Muslims can learn from the western societies like best use of resources for the welfare of the people, measures for promoting intellect and freedom and there are teachings of Islam from which western world can learn how to curb corporate greed, business ethics and distribution of wealth and resources. Let us first understand and then be understood.

    understanding of each others belief is developed. The Muslim leadership should propagate jihad against illiteracy – promote jihad against poverty and hunger, jihad for promoting true message of peace as per true Islamic values and respect Huquq ul Ibad

    March 25, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • AmericanPiex

      Ameen

      March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Sal1943

      Well put. Hope your message gets thru'

      March 25, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  15. jay

    wasnt mohamed the guy who got kicked out of american idol last week?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  16. educatedguess

    there are more than one ways to critical thinking. good for you matthew. your mom raised you right.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  17. FrankLW

    Astounding how people can actually take seriously the "teachings" of a 7th century charismatic and clever warlord who very clearly claimed to be a "prophet" of God in order to appeal to the masses and gain their utter devotion – far more devotion than what he would get as a typical warlord. Even Muhammad himself would be blown away if he could know that his fabrications would continue to gather devotees in 21st century America!

    If Christianity doesn't make sense but people have a deep feeling for the divine, you'd think they would simply adopt the Seven Noahide laws that establish law, order and morality with a divine origin but devoid of all the inane myths and manipulations – and horrors.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Kiljoy616

      Considering there is no evidence for Jesus outside the Bible I bet the people that made that up would be amassed also. In the end as I type on my high end computer to think people still believe in a sky daddy just blows my mind away.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Zebula

      Very well said. I agree.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • sgatoatl

      Hey, Killjoy, where do you get your facts that there is no evidence of Jesus outside of Biblical teachings? Do some historical research and you will find numerous reports of his existence. Now, the historical accounts are simply confirmation that a man named Jesus walked the earth when the Bible said he did, and the accounts also confirm that he did perform miracles and did, in fact live the life as mentioned in the Bible. Where discrepancies exist would be in the source of his miraculous behavior and beliefs. Historically, it's hard (if not impossible) to convey or prove the supernatural, so obviously it wouldn't be recorded historically the same as it would be recorded Biblically, as far as perspective goes. Either way, even in ancient Greek teachings, the existence of Jesus (or a man with the exact same story and timeline, but a slightly different name, which I cannot now remember) is recorded.

      Do some research. Maybe what you meant to say was that the holiness of Jesus is not recorded outside the Bible. That is possibly true because it's not something that most historians and scholars would probably consider relevant. His life, however, is historical fact. His death and beyond is where the discrepancy exists, I guess... Biblically, he died, was raised, and ascended to Heaven. Historically, his body just disappeared...

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

    A Christian changeing teams is not news. Muslims changeing to Jewdisium or Christianty would be news but that would be to inflamitory fo CNN. People who are searching for faith do it everyday.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Marie

      Was is it news when a Christian converts to Islam? How come you don't do stories when its the other way around? Biased much?

      March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  19. Frankly Speaking..

    Does this hate amaze me ? NOPE.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • markishere

      hatred for infidels? Yeah, same here.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  20. T.J. Stone

    I do know more than a little about the muslim faith. I have one question for this young man. If you hear radical teachings at your mosque, which you will because the Quran endorses radicalism, what are you going to do?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • muslim (means submitter to GOD)

      Through out the history of the world, people of faith (the same faith and message of, believing in one God, the faith of Adam, Ibrahim, Noah, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad peace be upon all of them) have been attacked for simply believing and not willing to get corrupted and live Animalistic life style. I recently visited a small Amish town in Ohio, and they gave me the same impression of everyone outside their town attacking them and calling them names just because they choose a certain life style and refuse the be sheeps and follow what the mass media tell them to be like and must act like in order to fit it and be in their eyes normal. The first word that the angel Gabrial accented down from God in the Quran was "Read". As muslim (again which mean to submit to God) we are obligated to read not just the last revelation (the Quran) but all revelations including the Torah and the Bible. I wounder how many many out there of other faiths have done the same by reading the Quran. If you take the time to understand 1.5 billion people by reading a book which they believe in, you will truly understand that to be a muslim/believer you must believe in all revelation of God. We can not believe in some and deny some. God has sent the same message from day one, BELIEVE IN THE ONE CREATOR. God is so merciful that he did not leave any human beings (which by the word "Human Being" in Arabic is "Bani Adam" the son of Adam) without a messenger to deliver the same simple message and to guide. God is fully capable of doing anything he may feel like, like make all humanity believers, destroying nations, wiping out all of humanity, providing for all including those who do not believe in him and a lot more but he is so merciful that he makes our earth and solar systems so beautiful that even non believers can only say 'oh my GOD' even if they don't believe. I urge all believers of the creator to pick up a Quran and read. To the non believers (atheists) may God guide, as God is the only being capable of guide you. Be aware that God is also capable of sealing hearts, ears and eyes. So even when you see, hear, or feel the truth you will still not believe. I humbly thank you for reading my comments and ask the believers to join hands and spread peace and not Mischief on earth. Profit Mohammad, peace be up him, said three things will always continuously provide you blessing after the person passes away:
      A son or a daughter that mentions them in good and pray on their souls and ask for forgiveness for their parent as they were forgiving and merciful raising him or her.

      A charity that goes on in giving goodness, raising an orphens, building schools, building churches, and even planting a tree as every time any being rests, eats, takes shade under it or grasps any benefit from it you get blessings.

      Good knowledge that benefit humanity any way.

      May blessing from GOD come down on all of you.....

      March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Kiljoy616

      If he is a true Muslim embrace it. Just like Christian or true dogmatic ones should embrace the opposite. That is after all what religion really is all about.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Caral From SoCal

      I just want to know what he will do when he gets to the part in the Koran where it tells him to take the sword to
      the neck of unbelievers. I suspect he did not know much about Christianity either.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • wot

      Sorry.. I have to bite this. What happens when there are radical teachings at your local church? Nothing. Yes, it happens, but be aware it happens in EVERY religion. Whatever religion it happens in it is wrong. It doesn't matter if you are Fred Phelps or a Mullah.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Logic

      "muslim"... I dare you to pick up a Bible in front of your fellows and read it... My concern is that you're exploiting the freedoms that are given to; a freedom you don't grant to to follower of your faith to freely choose their religion. Jesus said, you should know the tree from its fruit. Give me one good example in the world where Islam rules and there's freedom (the one you're using), justice, or advancement.

      I invite to practice love instead of trying to convert people.....

      March 25, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Leila

      It is too sad that people like matt belive in this... I do recommend to read Quran as it teaches how to kills all of us. maybe then people like Matt will wake up.. and follow their mind, not whathewer was placed into his head at the time hen he felt lonely and insecure.. Too sad...

      March 25, 2011 at 10:48 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.