We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib

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, S...

Details We Have Always Been Here

TitleWe Have Always Been Here
Release DateJun 4th, 2019
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, LGBT, GLBT, Queer, Religion

Reviews We Have Always Been Here

  • CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
    An amazing memoir. Habib recounts her childhood as an Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan, where her family had to hide to stay safe in the face of Islamic extremists and then how this pattern of hiding combined with sexism and homophobia followed her to Canada, where she felt forced to hide her femininity and queerness. Beautiful thoughts about art, activism, spirituality, and more. Passages about her finding her people, other queer Muslims, made me cry.I...
  • Basma
    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 hand...
  • Meena Khan
    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 anythi...
  • Ameema Saeed
    4.5 stars.
  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    4.5 STARS - This is an honest and revealing coming-of-age memoir of a queer Muslim woman's struggle with identity, faith and family. Beginning with her childhood as a young Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan and continuing into her adult life as a successful photojournalist in Toronto, Habib describes how her experiences, beliefs and relationships shaped the woman she has become. After her family moves to Canada to flee religious persecution, she struggle...
  • Marie-Therese
    3.5 stars overall, although the first third of the book is considerably stronger, fresher, and more interesting than the rest.
  • Susan
    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 mig...
  • Hamza Jahanzeb
    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 Mus...
  • Ann
    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 ...
  • Lacey
    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 ...
  • Erin
    “Our understanding of the interior lives of those who are not like us is contingent on their ability to articulate themselves in a language we know. The further removed people are from proficiency in that language, the less likely they are to be understood as complex individuals. The audience often fills in the blanks with their own preconceptions.” (175)Although marketed as a queer Muslim memoir, it takes awhile to get there. It’s also a m...
  • Bethany
    This is a valuable book, and while I liked it I wished that it went deeper. I feel like there's so much about the author I don't know. Maybe she wrote as much as she was able to at this time.
  • Isabell Ona bike
    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
    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.
  • Laila
    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 h...
  • Johannes C
    Have you ever watched or listened to something that you just could not stop thinking about all day? A stubborn all-consuming spectre that clings to every other vacant thought that slides through your consciousness as you conduct the banal tasks of your day. This book was precisely that sort of encounter for me — which is not what I was expecting upon reading the book’s description (I think this book deserves a better back-cover synopsis). Thi...
  • Craig Rowland
    We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir was written by Samra Habib, a queer-identified Muslimah who came to Canada with her family from Pakistan. Habib is a journalism graduate who can indeed tell a good story. It was hard to put this book down and the pages rapidly turned themselves. From a failed Muslim marriage to her older first cousin to a Canadian marriage to a different man, Habib broke out of her hetero stranglehold to embrace her...
  • Kate
    "The reality is this identity has shaped the way I see the world, and the way others see me, in a way that is beyond my control. Being Muslim is one of the only absolutes about myself I can be sure of. It serves as an anchor when I'm lost at sea. It helps me come back to myself, and it leads me to others who struggle to reconcile seemingly disparate parts of themselves. There's no denying that my identity as a queer Muslim is the lens through whi...
  • Megan White
    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...
  • Sarah
    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 ...
  • Bookworm
    I was intrigued by the title and decided it would be a good read. The title had me interested, especially as I had known Muslims who told me you could not be both Muslim and a gay/lesbian person (this was their wording and it's not to ignore the greater LGBTQ+ community).It's Habib's memoir of her life of being very young in Pakistan, and then moving to Canada with her family as refugees. Then we learn about what it's like to grow up in an entire...
  • Amanda
    It feels strange to have an opinion about someone's memoirs, but Samra Habib has such a gift for storytelling that it seems impossible not to love this book. One of the highlights was her discussion of her photography project with queer Muslims and her critique of the inaccessibility of academic jargon. Samra is also not afraid to take a hard look at how the mythology surrounding Canadian multiculturalism and queer acceptance has actually led to ...
  • Andrea
    *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 ...
  • Keana Aguila Labra
    We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib is an honest recollection of her childhood. Now is arguably a divided time where fear and stereotypes rules others' perceptions of identities that they may not have encountered or know personally. Habib offers herself as an example of being authentically herself, a queer Muslim, and her journey toward acceptance. She does not force any "lesson" upon the reader; instead, she asks that we put ourselves in oth...
  • Madi
    "My parents once sent me back to the bathroom to wash off all traces of a carefully applied layer of blue eyeshadow- my dad called it 'azaad.' 'Azaad' is a funny word in Urdu. In most instances, it means 'freedom.' Freedom from your captors, war, and oppressive regimes. But when used to describe a woman, it is meant to imply that she is too wild to be tamed by those who have the right to tame her... It's also used liberally to slut-shame and put ...
  • Evelynne
    Interesting but....I would say the I was captivated by the first two thirds and lost in the last third. Understandably, the memoir goes from her personal story, to the plight/journey/struggle that all queer Muslims face. While providing insight to those of us that do not share these struggles, I felt at a certain point, I still wanted to know more about the authors personal story and was less interested in the larger context, mainly because I rea...
  • Caitlin Kearney
    Did I finish it? YesDid I think it was good? Very! Some large topics weren't fully explored (her relationship with Islam as a way of live vs a spiritual belief system), or mentioned and then dropped (the sexual abuse she suffered as a child), but on the whole I found this book to be well written and insightful.Did I like it? YesWould I recommend it? AbsolutelyWould I re-read it? I don't think I need to, but maybe one day.Final rating: 4.5 stars
  • Sasha Gronsdahl
    A moving memoir about one woman's complicated childhood and struggle with identity. I appreciated the clear-eyed, honest look at what it was like to come to Canada as an Ahmadi Muslim from Pakistan. I found the pacing a little rushed - while Habib takes care and attention to detail her young adolescence, I found that the story once she began to embrace her queer identity rushed forward at a speed that left me wanting to slow down and unpack the n...
  • Moira
    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.
  • Shawn Sorensen
    This is an important book to read as a parent. I actually connected so deeply to the parents, as they navigated how to make their children feel supported for who they are. They make the mistakes I don’t want to make. It’s a powerful and impactful memoir, and I’m glad it was written.