We Have Always Been Here

We Have Always Been Here

A Queer Muslim Memoir

Book - 2019
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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.
Publisher: Toronto :, Viking,, 2019
ISBN: 9780735235007
Branch Call Number: 921 HAB
Characteristics: 220 pages ;,21 cm

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RomanceAddict Aug 16, 2019

Samra's memoir is a heartfelt narrative of queer, immigrant life. The joy when she speaks of her childhood in Pakistan radiates off the page as she lingers over descriptions of her family's various abodes as their financial situation improved - you can feel her nostalgia for her native land and how much she wishes she could return as she is now, a queer, Muslim adult. The story of her birth, followed by two more sisters, and their father's reaction to those who would behave as in the time of ignorance and mourn the birth of daughters bucks the stereotypes of Muslim men (hint: he names his third daughter "Princess" in Urdu).

The transition to life in Canada feels sharp, sudden, much like uprooting yourself and moving thousands of miles across the world to a country where you have no roots, no language, no shared faith or culture. She skillfully expresses the different ways of thinking between herself and her classmates - they dream of their weddings, while she is betrothed to her cousin and weddings aren't a big deal in her family; they argue with their families, she accepts her parents' decisions and the concept of personal agency is foreign.

Most importantly, this memoir gives us a glimpse into the faith of a queer Muslim woman who is rejected by so many Muslims for being queer, and by the LGBTQ+ community for being brown and Muslim. She loves Islam and grew up reading the Qur'an daily, and her determination to love in the face of hate - on the basis of her religion or sexuality or national origin - and cling to her religion, which gives her life meaning and hope, could inspire all of us to do and be better. This is an important memoir, offered from an all-too-rare perspective: a queer woman who remains joyfully, defiantly Muslim.

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