ICNA Relief Blog

God Makes A Way Out Of Every Hardship: A Revert Sister's Story of Hanging On To Faith Despite Great Struggles

God Makes A Way Out Of Every Hardship: A Revert Sister's Story of Hanging On To Faith Despite Great Struggles

By Br. Ariz Saleem, ICNA Relief Outreach Coordinator

muslimah silhouetteNathaly Vasquez, renamed Hayaat or “life” after her conversion to Islam, has faced her share of challenges in life.  After converting to Islam, four years ago, she was immediately thrust into the culture of Muslims.  As a mature woman of 23, it was a must for her to be married off and urgently.  She received a referral from the masjid for a brother of Yemeni background.  Although the family was reluctant and unhappy with his decision, he persisted and eventually married Hayaat.

Soon afterwards, the couple had a daughter named Aleena.  Aleena was born with a condition called aniridia -- this meant that she lacked an iris and was considered legally blind.  In addition, Aleena had neurological problems consisting of seizures and learning disabilities. A few months after her birth, Aleena's father left for Yemen mainly due to pressures from his parents.

A month after her husband's departure, Hayaat learned that she was pregnant with twins. But, he was not to return to America for another two years.  In her early to mid twenties, Hayaat was responsible for five children, two of which she mothered prior to her marriage and acceptance of Islam.

When Hayaat's husband did return, she predominantly saw him at court proceedings around their divorce. He claimed that he wasn't the father of the twins. “It's embarrassing, you know, to have to do a DNA test as a Muhajiba (woman who covers),” Hayaat said. 

Although Hayaat has endured a lasting struggle, her character shines through these tribulations.  “Everything he did was a reason for me to leave Islam. My family said not to marry an Arab. He confirmed my family's worst fears,” she admitted.  As a listener attempting to sympathize with her struggle, I said I was sorry for what she had been through. She rebutted saying, “Don't be sorry. It made me stronger in my deen (religion).”  Hayaat felt her experiences built her character and taught her that no one except God could be relied upon.

Undoubtedly, there has been a world of change for Hayaat since she first accepted Islam. “I used to work for Nissan corporate and had an awesome apartment,” she said reflecting on her past life.  She related the verse in the Holy Qur'an in which God reminds the believers not to think that they won't be tested after professing faith; a beautiful and effective reminder for Hayaat in her situation. 

Despite the undulations of adversity and calm, Hayaat has gracefully managed to hold on to her connection to God.  Part of her energy to do so came in the form of help from other concerned Muslims. She related that it was because of ICNA Relief and other compassionate Muslims that she has encountered on her journey that she was able to experience the beautiful character of The Messenger, peace be upon him. Her faith was strengthened and affirmed by the strong community that supported her through her hardship.

When asked how ICNA Relief got in touch with her, she said they reached out to her first.  Umber Siddiqi, who is a part of our ICNA Relief team in New Jersey, found out about her through a fellow Muslim who was acquainted with Hayaat.  Knowing Hayaat's habit of not asking others for help, she reached out to ICNA Relief to initiate contact. “SubhanAllah, you know what, [Umber] chased me down to help me -- 'send me your ID, send me your documents' -- Masha' Allah, she was so persistent,” Hayaat recounted in jovial gratitude.  “I've never seen Umber's face.  I hope, insha' Allah, I get a chance to see her and thank her,” she added.

During our conversation Hayaat mentioned yet another heartwarming experience.  Upon walking into the masjid with her twins, the aunties would immediately recognize her. “Are you Nathaly?” they would ask and Hayaat would reply with a reserved yes. “Oh my God! I know you!” an aunty would exclaim. “I was like, I don't know you,” Hayaat related with a chuckle but appreciated the care she received from these sisters. Through experiencing love and support from her community and ICNA Relief, Hayaat was able to overcome her financial and spiritual struggles.

Hayaat's sends a heartily thanks ICNA Relief's donors for the help she got through their contributions and encourages them to do more for the sake of Allah. “I would like to tell them to give," she said. "If they already give, then give more. They do make a difference. They make an impact on lives.  I received help for my light bill right when was it about to be gone. Give. Don't think twice about it. Give. Community is worth more than anything that you can buy for yourself. Allah sees everything. You may not see them [the people who you help] but one day you will be rewarded.”