Sal Lavallo visited EVERY country in the world by age 27. He shares his conversion to Islam story below:
This week marks 5 years since I converted to Islam. I get asked about this more than anything. In short, my conversion was the realization that the truths I had come to in my personal spiritual journey were aligned with those promulgated by Islam. It was neither a cultural thing, nor for anyone other than myself.
I grew up Catholic and went 11 years to Catholic school. I was always told by my family that faith should be explored, and that it was okay to have divergent opinions to what the church had provided. When I was 17, I lived a summer in Houston, Texas and spent much of my time with a family of Pentecostals. They focus on feeling the divine presence intimately and introduced me to mysticism. I then saw myself as simply Christian rather than Catholic.
Soon though, I found that recognizing Jesus as a prophet but not as God was what I felt to be the truth. All the while, my spirituality was soaring. I sought out transcendental experiences and I looked everywhere for the ineffable magic I call God. This continued while I did an 18-month tour of the world for work/school to East Africa, the Holy Land, the GCC, India / Nepal, and Venezuela. Through this experience I saw many ways that spirituality manifests into religion and I admired the community bond it builds.
In February 2013 in a village in Tanzania I was asked by a wise man what I believed. I discussed the truths I had come to, and he responded, “oh so you’re Muslim.” He explained that what I had told him were exactly the 5 tennets of Islam: monotheism, consistent prayer, devotion to charity, times of heightened awareness of God (fasting), and pilgrimage. That day I said the shahada with true faith.
The next day with an Imam we did a more proper ceremony. Soon after, as I began exploring Islam more deeply, I felt that for the first time in my life, I was hearing the truth.
In the 5 years since, it has been a phenomenal journey ebbing and flowing but always moving in the direction of the divine. Faith and becoming closer to God is the most important thing in my life and Islam has provided me with questions, answers, and tools to more deeply explore my soul and find the ineffable.
Here is a video where he talks about his travels to ALL countries of the world before age 27: