We Have Always Been Here
How do you find yourself when the world tells you that you don't exist? Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger.When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space--in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit--became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved.So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along. A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one's truest self.

We Have Always Been Here Details

TitleWe Have Always Been Here
Author
ReleaseJun 4th, 2019
PublisherViking
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, LGBT, Religion, GLBT, Queer

We Have Always Been Here Review

  • Basma
    January 1, 1970
    I have been a fan of Samra Habib's work since a few years back. I think I first stumbled upon her writing in The Guardian and later found myself on tumblr looking at her photo projects. So you can say that I went into this with a little bias and curiosity to know more about her, her work and why she ended up writing a memoir. I've had this book on my to-read list since I first heard it was coming out in 2017. So I'm glad I was able to get my hands on a copy on Netgalley and I think I'll get a co I have been a fan of Samra Habib's work since a few years back. I think I first stumbled upon her writing in The Guardian and later found myself on tumblr looking at her photo projects. So you can say that I went into this with a little bias and curiosity to know more about her, her work and why she ended up writing a memoir. I've had this book on my to-read list since I first heard it was coming out in 2017. So I'm glad I was able to get my hands on a copy on Netgalley and I think I'll get a copy once it's out.I am still unsure about how to discuss this book and all the points mentioned because I have a lot of thoughts.. but I'll just say how it made me feel as this seems easier than analyzing.This is a book about Samra Habib's life and upbringing, her work and her queerness, and how she ended up being in the place she is now. There is a lot of internal struggle and rebellion that comes through while reading this that feels so raw and so much like what myself and the people I know go through- to differing degrees. Despite being of different sects and from different countries, the struggle is the same for those of us who see things a little differently than black and white. There's a part in this book where she voices her concern about how narrating her life opens up the door for white people to criticize and point fingers at her way of life and how she fees like she is feeding into the narrative they lavishly consume and what the media has always portrayed. And even if there is truth in that, even if someone can say I told you so, for the other people out there who still live in similar societies which she has managed to leave, this feels like safety. This feels like being heard and feels like someone out there actually knows what it's like to struggle so profoundly to find a place within oneself and one's religion. Voices and books like this offer a sort of comfort that can be difficult to find or trust. I have a lot of favorite lines in this book but one of them that stands out is when her brother asks her why she wants to identify with being a Muslim when her queer identity is not always welcomed and why is she trying so hard to make peace with it.. Won't spoil what she said just so you can read the book but it sums up what a lot of go through.This book gets a 5 star because I want more books and more voices like that out there in the book industry and on people's shelves. I however thought the first part of the book was much stronger. The latter half when she delves into her life as a grown-up and her work and finding peace within herself and her religion felt too rushed and I felt like she was jumping from one thought to the next. But it is nevertheless great and it was the right book at the right time for me. I would recommend getting acquainted with her work before reading the book though, whether previous articles or her photo projects because I felt it kind of paves the way into why she wrote this memoir.[Around the world pick for Pakistan.](I received a free e-book copy of this title from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
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  • Meena Khan
    January 1, 1970
    This book is very misleading if you are interested in learning about Islam. Please don't use this book as your reference point. For example, when the writer describes the differences between Shia and Sunni muslims, she does it in a haste without any real, religious knowledge. That whole account sounds fake and comes across as if it was just inserted as a way to use Islam to promote the book. Why talk about Shia Muslims if she does not know anything about their teachings? It was very offensive to This book is very misleading if you are interested in learning about Islam. Please don't use this book as your reference point. For example, when the writer describes the differences between Shia and Sunni muslims, she does it in a haste without any real, religious knowledge. That whole account sounds fake and comes across as if it was just inserted as a way to use Islam to promote the book. Why talk about Shia Muslims if she does not know anything about their teachings? It was very offensive towards Shia Muslims! If she needed to include that passage, she at least could have found more information online through Google. One would think she had done some research before publishing the book, but she clearly hasn't or couldn't care less.It would have been better for the writer if she had just focused on talking about her life as a queer individual. It feels as if she just talks about Islam, even when she no longer is a practicing Muslim, to just get attention and make some money. It is appalling and offensive to muslims that this woman chooses to use Islam to promote her book and her lifestyle even when she clearly is not a practicing muslim or follows the religious teaching herself. What a shame!Plus, how old is she? 30 something. I mean, are you are a Syrian refugee who has survived gang rape and other atrocities or are you Malala Yousafzai who took a bullet in the head as a consequence for promoting education in Swat, Pakistan? Meaning, there are a lot more powerful stories of survival and resilience written by practising muslim women, this is not one of them. At best, it is a memoir of a young woman who has a comfortable life in Canada despite being a queer woman and an immigrant.Another point is that the writer clearly lives a privileged life yet depicts herself as a victim. As pointed out by someone else that she is not poor to begin with for she frequently travels, has a good source of income and does not come across as a victim from any angle. Therefore, her whole book comes across as being dishonest and misleading as well as using the religion of Islam to make more money (perhaps to afford more privileged traveling across the globe).
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  • Ameema Saeed
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars.
  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    While I enjoyed learning about Ms. Habib and would love to see her photography, I would not say this book was much of an exploration as stated in the summary. For despite being presented as a memoir, I felt it was much more of an objective stating of the facts of Ms. Habib's life and generalized information about difficulties in the Pakistan and Muslim cultures, I did not feel like I finished this book knowing Ms. Habib. While this disconnect might be due to her need to protect herself, it does While I enjoyed learning about Ms. Habib and would love to see her photography, I would not say this book was much of an exploration as stated in the summary. For despite being presented as a memoir, I felt it was much more of an objective stating of the facts of Ms. Habib's life and generalized information about difficulties in the Pakistan and Muslim cultures, I did not feel like I finished this book knowing Ms. Habib. While this disconnect might be due to her need to protect herself, it does a disservice in a memoir.Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for a copy of the book. This review is my own opinion.
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  • Ann
    January 1, 1970
    There were moments during this book that I felt a little bit nervous (like any time the author mentioned trans people), but overall this was a beautiful portrayal of self-discovery. I have read a lot about queer Christians, but to read about the author's relationship with Islam forced me to confront my attitudes towards organized religion in a way I hadn't before. That said, it also confuses me that there was a lot of time spent on the struggles of poverty, but it seems to me that once Habib was There were moments during this book that I felt a little bit nervous (like any time the author mentioned trans people), but overall this was a beautiful portrayal of self-discovery. I have read a lot about queer Christians, but to read about the author's relationship with Islam forced me to confront my attitudes towards organized religion in a way I hadn't before. That said, it also confuses me that there was a lot of time spent on the struggles of poverty, but it seems to me that once Habib was in a more stable financial situation, we no longer got to understand how she was able to afford so many trips abroad, for example. I think a more honest account of people's financial situations -- especially creative people -- would be valuable.
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  • Lacey
    January 1, 1970
    I had to take some time to process my thoughts on this book. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes and all thoughts expressed in this review are my own. This book left me in tears. Like, all out sobbing tears. I’m so glad that this memoir was written. I have gained a new perspective on what being a queer Muslim looks like. I truly believe in representation and own voices literature because it provides a way to bring everyone to the table and allows those marginalized I had to take some time to process my thoughts on this book. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes and all thoughts expressed in this review are my own. This book left me in tears. Like, all out sobbing tears. I’m so glad that this memoir was written. I have gained a new perspective on what being a queer Muslim looks like. I truly believe in representation and own voices literature because it provides a way to bring everyone to the table and allows those marginalized voices to speak. This book also provides a warning to Canada to keep fighting for all LGBTQIA+ people: “ Witnessing politically minded queers in North Carolina, many of whom were also Muslim, was especially revelatory for me, because I often found people back home in Toronto to be apathetic and apolitical, perhaps a result of the comfort and ambivalence that advanced queer rights can breed. Many Canadians who enjoyed the fruits of decades of activism did not see any need to advocate for the rights of queer and trans people of colour. In my experience, progress in many circles had given way to passivity. When I launched my photo project, someone actually asked me if there was even a need for it, because “things are so great in Canada for queers. What’s left to fight for?”One mustn’t sit back and think everything is great because gay marriage is recognized. My heart broke when I read “ When I photographed my subjects in Istanbul, they asked that I not show their faces because they feared for their safety.” It is truly devastating how some countries view being LGBTQIA+ as dangerous or something that isn’t okay. It’s enraging. The quote that sent tears down my face was when the author told her father that she is queer. Samra and her father had a difficult relationship since immigrating to Canada, and when she told him that she was queer, he responded “You can’t help it,” he said. “It’s just who you are.” Being seen for who you are is what we are all looking for. I recommend We Have Always Been Here . I deeply recommend it to those seeking for a new perspective on LGBTQIA+ . This memoir gives a marginalized voice a seat at the table.
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  • Isabell Ona bike
    January 1, 1970
    Easily one of the best books I’ve read all year. Habib’s story is compelling and inspiring, and her writing is magnificent. A very, very good read.
  • Rita
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up this memoir on a whim and am super glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very rewarding reading from a point of view so different from my own and seeing how Habib's faith intersected with her sexuality. I do think that the narrative was a little too loose and didn't grab me as soon about halfway through, but I recognize the merit in writing this memoir.
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  • Hamza Jahanzeb
    January 1, 1970
    Samra Habib provide an honest, raw and gripping account of her life from Pakistan, escaping the clutches of religious intolerance, into a new world in Canada where she and her family sought refuge. It is brilliantly told, with an absolute clear narrative that reads like it's being told to you by a nearby friend. The way in which Habib reflects on the earlier years in her life, provide for great insight into what life was like being the Ahmadi Muslin in an intolerant Pakistan. Her relationships, Samra Habib provide an honest, raw and gripping account of her life from Pakistan, escaping the clutches of religious intolerance, into a new world in Canada where she and her family sought refuge. It is brilliantly told, with an absolute clear narrative that reads like it's being told to you by a nearby friend. The way in which Habib reflects on the earlier years in her life, provide for great insight into what life was like being the Ahmadi Muslin in an intolerant Pakistan. Her relationships, trauma and life events also cause her to become the woman she is, and I really enjoyed finding a memoir in which I could relate on so many levels. It is a necessary read for all LGBTQI+ identifying folk, as well as allies. Or even bigots. I can't tell you how urgently needed this book; do read this book, re-read it (as I found myself doing) for we often lack on how identities intersect, and this book provided me with so much hope. It resonated with my own journey, and that of my own Queer friends. There are parts where I sobbed - others where I felt like I was a cheshire cat cackling on the tube. Ultimately, this is a joyful uplifting tale, with a gorgeously seamless narrative - I can't recommend this book to you all, and it is in my top 3 books (so far!) of 2019.Get yourself a copy pre-ordered now - as I think this will be a summer read must-have!
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  • Megan White
    January 1, 1970
    I discovered Samra Habib through netgalley, I saw the description and cover for this book and thought I need an ARC of this ASAP. I was so lucky that Penguin Random House Canada decided I was deserving. First off how am I Canadian and did not know who Samra Sabib was , after reading this book she is a legend in my eyes. Normally I’d be saying I was ashamed because I hadn’t heard her but she taught me there is no shame. Her writing is eloquent and raw and so real. This book literally cut me open I discovered Samra Habib through netgalley, I saw the description and cover for this book and thought I need an ARC of this ASAP. I was so lucky that Penguin Random House Canada decided I was deserving. First off how am I Canadian and did not know who Samra Sabib was , after reading this book she is a legend in my eyes. Normally I’d be saying I was ashamed because I hadn’t heard her but she taught me there is no shame. Her writing is eloquent and raw and so real. This book literally cut me open and bled me dry. Now I can bleed better blood, authentic blood because that’s what she does to you. The book just pours out authenticity and I am so better for reading it. I’ve learned so much from these pages about Pakistan and Muslim culture. I felt so much sadness for the difficulty’s faced and compassion for the resilience. I felt so ashamed that islamaphobia is even a thing in our society in this modern world. I felt as a person who identifies as queer, so validated even tho I am not Muslim. This book was a safe space. This book told me I’m queer enough even if I love a man. If you like reading about authentic people with the power to change lives - this is for you.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This is a really great memoir from artist and writer and activist and refugee and Muslim and queer Samra Habib. It covers her childhood in Pakistan, fleeing religious persecution and seeking asylum in Canada, the arranged marriage she had with her older first cousin at the age of 16, her subsequent divorce, and coming into her own through lots of exploration and experimentation in many aspects of life. That's kind of a reductive list; throughout the story, Habib talks openly about her complicate This is a really great memoir from artist and writer and activist and refugee and Muslim and queer Samra Habib. It covers her childhood in Pakistan, fleeing religious persecution and seeking asylum in Canada, the arranged marriage she had with her older first cousin at the age of 16, her subsequent divorce, and coming into her own through lots of exploration and experimentation in many aspects of life. That's kind of a reductive list; throughout the story, Habib talks openly about her complicated emotions about things that were happening in her life, and becomes a truly confident woman claiming her multifaceted identity with joy and pride. I found her story super compelling and a great addition to the queer memoir canon, which is sorely lacking in Muslim voices and immigrant voices. At times I found the writing a little dry, like I wanted more description and emotion to ground me, and some parts felt rushed. But overall I think this is a fantastic memoir and I highly recommend it.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    *I received this book from NetGalley in return for a honest review*Samra was born and raised in Pakistan but then moved with her family to Toronto as refugees. She is suddenly faced with a world so different than what she knew and so much more than she thought the world could offer.Samra ends up escaping an arranged marriage and finding a tribe of people that help her discover who she is and how she can reconcile her queerness and her faith.This is a beautiful memoir. It took me a little bit to *I received this book from NetGalley in return for a honest review*Samra was born and raised in Pakistan but then moved with her family to Toronto as refugees. She is suddenly faced with a world so different than what she knew and so much more than she thought the world could offer.Samra ends up escaping an arranged marriage and finding a tribe of people that help her discover who she is and how she can reconcile her queerness and her faith.This is a beautiful memoir. It took me a little bit to get into it but once I did I was enthralled. Samra wrote about her life in such a real and touching way and in a way that makes you want to read more and it tells a story that is different than a lot of the stories out there.
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  • Laila
    January 1, 1970
    Not sure what to make of this book. It is certainly not a memoir, but more of a paint-by-numbers autobiography (I was born on such and such date, when I was young this happened, then that happened..., etc). And to that end, who is Samra Habib, why should we be interested in *her* life story? Her relationship with her parents, husband, etc. seem very ho-hum. Welcome to being a teenager/young adult navigating life. The most interesting section of her book is her art project about queer Muslims.
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  • Moira
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book for an honest review. When I started this book I knew nothing about Samra Habib’s story. Her writing style is very relatable and you are easily immersed into her life. I learned so much about the Muslim culture and went on a journey of the authors journey of self discovery. If you are looking for an authentic voice you have found it.
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  • Marie
    January 1, 1970
    Magnifique témoignage de Samra Habib sur sa vie au Pakistan puis au Canada. J'ai trouvé fort pertinent la lecture de cet ouvrage, où la perception d'une jeune femme de couleur, queer et musulmane s'exprime ouvertement sur ses expériences de la vie. Je recommande chaudement pour tous!
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  • Alexandra Chubachi
    January 1, 1970
    This book wasn’t necessarily a revelation, but I really enjoyed Habib’s wise and even tone throughout. Her process of reconciling with her mother, returning to an inclusive Islam, and the importance of deep platonic relationships, were very poignant themes.
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  • Mo
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent queer pride read! This short memoir is hopeful and accessible. I also need to spend more time with Samra Habib's gorgeous Just Me and Allah: A Queer Muslim Photo Project.
  • Deena Thomson
    January 1, 1970
    a good eye opener. We are all not that different
  • Daniela
    January 1, 1970
    A testament to the gorgeous splendour of muslim queerness. By a beautiful writer.
  • Jocelyn Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    Such an important read, and so accessible.Please assign this in schools.
  • Alexandra Rose
    January 1, 1970
    I couldn’t put this down! I read it in an evening. This should be read by all.
  • Bex Wiles
    January 1, 1970
    We Have Always Been Here - this title encapsulates what felt, to me, like the core message of this book: queer Muslims have always been here but Samra Habib's story is about the political act of taking up space in a world that doesn't see you. Samra Habib's writing takes us eloquently through her childhood in Pakistan, to her experiences of life as a young refugee in Canada and then to the years spent unpacking her identity as a queer Muslim woman. Powerful and poignant aren't quite strong enoug We Have Always Been Here - this title encapsulates what felt, to me, like the core message of this book: queer Muslims have always been here but Samra Habib's story is about the political act of taking up space in a world that doesn't see you. Samra Habib's writing takes us eloquently through her childhood in Pakistan, to her experiences of life as a young refugee in Canada and then to the years spent unpacking her identity as a queer Muslim woman. Powerful and poignant aren't quite strong enough words to capture the emotional impact of her words. Upon finishing it, I found myself choked up - her story invites you to look at society through a new lens and recognise your social privileges. I will be recommending this book far and wide; despite its weighty content, her writing is addictive and consuming, and I read it in two sittings - finding it too hard to put down.
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