• We Have Always Been Here

  • A Queer Muslim Memoir
  • By: Samra Habib
  • Narrated by: Parmida Vand
  • Length: 5 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (137 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. 

“Gutting and redemptive, We Have Always Been Here is the story of one woman’s path to self-determination against every odd. Habib’s voice is sensual and mesmerizing, her talent fierce and necessary. A transformative reading experience.... Habib’s every word lifts off the page, vital and bright as a match being struck.” (Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker)

©2019 Samra Habib (P)2019 Viking

Critic Reviews

National best seller

Winner of Canada Reads 2020

Winner of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award

Longlisted for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize 

Longlisted for the 2020 Toronto Book Award

We Have Always Been Here challenges so many received wisdoms on gender, faith and sexuality that its very existence in the world is cause for celebration.” (The Globe and Mail

“Habib writes through a lens of compassion, hope, and ever-widening circles of understanding.” (Quill and Quire

“I fell in love with this book. In prose as economical, crisp, clear, and truthful as poetry, Samra Habib offers a map of how we might learn to see and treasure one another and ourselves. In this way it calls to mind the works of James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Jane Rule. I predict that this book will never go out of print - it will become required and desired reading for people of all ages, persuasions, and backgrounds. How I wish I had had it to keep close to my heart when I was younger.” (Shani Mootoo, author of Cereus Blooms at Night

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What listeners say about We Have Always Been Here

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Wow.

I absolutely will never forget this book. This is absolutely a work of perfection that i believe everyone needs to read in their lifetime. This is such an important story and subject matter that everyone should be hearing and learning about. In almost every major religion we hear about queer people leaving the religion because they feel judged and misunderstood by people in their religion. We don’t hear enough of these stories from queer Muslims who may face the most discrimination for coming out to their Muslim community. I can’t say it enough that this story and others like it need to be heard and read and talked about. This book made me feel like I belong, I am queer and a former Christian so I felt a lot of fear about what would happen if I came out to the people at my church. This story made me feel like it’s ok to be who you are unapologetically, whether you stay in your religion or not. I have it 5 stars because it is a work of art and a very powerful story that would move someone even if they didn’t understand the repercussions of being queer in a predominantly hetero environment.

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Blessed to have read this book

I had to read this book for class but I am so very glad I did. It is a very enlightening and touching book that reaches not only to your heart but your mind.

1 person found this helpful

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This should be required reading

This is the kind of book that reshapes the way we see ourselves and the world. It carves out space for those of us who live on the periphery of the mainstream in every area of our lives. This is the book I wish I had when I was a teenager, and one I’m so grateful to have now. It was well-written and powerful. I’m so grateful for Samra Habib’s existence and the fact that she was courageous enough to share her life and work with us.

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Required reading for Queers and Allies

This memoir was absolutely excellent. The story is well written and weaves through the many elements of Samra’s identity. It is also incredibly relevant and important during this time as western civilization faces a fresh wave of Islamophobia.

The narrator did an excellent job as well and the story moves at a crisp yet engaging pace.

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Beautiful story about Queer and Muslim intersectio

I loved this book! As a Queer Muslima, I'm hoping many more books like this are published in the future.

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Engaging memoir

I enjoyed listening to this memoir, the author is about my age and has lived a very different life from mine. Firstly this is a focused memoir, it's not about her entire life, it's about her immigration to Canada from Pakistan as a child, finding her queer identity, and rectifying that with her Muslim identity. She wrote the book after her photo portraits of queer Muslims were exhibited and garnered acclaim, as she realized that young queer Muslims might see her as a role model. I think this book is for everyone though. I was interested in her relationship with her mother-- healing that relationship after its many hurdles felt very familiar to me even from far outside of her specific experience. The narrator is excellent, and I enjoyed listening to this book. If you're looking for a similar memoir, All Boys Aren't Blue by George Johnson is about growing up Black and gay in the US.

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Eye opening!

I think this should be a required read for everyone, very well written and giving voice to an unknown world for me.

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A great perspective

Nice to shed light on something that I did not consider much of prior. Nice to hear a voice and point of view from a specific minority.