Ellis studied the Quran for years and found his destination in Islam following a trip to the African country of Senegal.
The mayor of Macon in the American state of Georgia, a practising Christian, has reverted to Islam, saying he went back to his roots after years of soul-searching.
“Why does one become a Christian? You do it because it feels right. . . . To me, it’s no big deal. But people like to know what you believe in,” Jack Ellis, who changed his name to Hakim Mansour Ellis, was quoted as saying by the American Boston Herald newspaper.
Ellis noted that he studied the Qur’an for years and found his destination in Islam following a trip to the African country of Senegal, saying that his new religion was practised by his ancestors before they were brought to North America as slaves. “I did revert to Islam in December of this past year in the country of Senegal,” he said in statements carried by WMAZ-TV, a local television in the City of Columbia, South Carolina. The father-of-five said, he started praying five times a day and regularly frequents the Islamic Center on Bloomfield Road, and is proud of the religious freedom in the United States. He said although he reverted to Islam, he does not rank religions. “I’m not saying that one is better than the other,” Ellis said.
“We do believe that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was the last prophet as well as we believe Moses was a prophet,” Ellis added. Born on January 6, 1946 in Macon, Ellis holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from St. Leo College in Florida. According to his website, Ellis served two years of combat duty in Vietnam as a para-trooper platoon sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division. He was awarded three Bronze Stars, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor and Heroism, and the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. Ellis will complete his second consecutive four-year term, as a mayor of Macon, in December 2007 and is not eligible for re-election. But he said he might run for Georgia’s 8th District congressional seat in 2008.Ellis was first sworn in as Mayor of Macon on December 14, 1999 becoming the first black Mayor in the city’s 176-year history.
He is the 40th mayor of Macon and currently serving his second term.
“I went back to my roots I guess you could say,” he said. He said that although his reversion is a personal affair, it is the right of voters, as long as he is a public figure, to know his decision. “It’s a personal decision, a private decision as to how one worships. But I do understand that I’m not a private person,” Ellis said.
“But being the mayor of the city, I think people have a right to know what I believe in, that I am a man of faith, and the faith I’m now a part of is the faith of Islam,” he added.
Voters re-elected Ellis as he made Macon one of the most livable cities in America. He used his Federal and State grants to assist the youth in job training, mentoring, tutoring, after-school programs and crime reduction programs. He built over forty affordable houses marketed to first time homebuyers. Ellis is presently constructing hundreds of affordable and market-rate houses in the Beall’s Hill area, according to his website.
“Now, I’m sharing with my broader family, the Macon community who supported me when I was a Christian and trust that they will now,” Ellis said. “I’m the same person even though I’ll be changing my name,” he added.