Books·Canadian

We Have Always Been Here

We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib.

Samra Habib

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. (From Viking)

Why Samra Habib wrote We Have Always Been Here

"I saw a lot of benefit in being honest about my experience. I think there's a lack of queer Muslim narratives and one of the reasons could be that many fear persecution. It's not safe to be an openly queer Muslim person in a lot of different parts of the world, but I don't have to fear. I think I am relatively safe and I thought, 'OK, I can do this without risking a lot.'

It was while writing the book that I realized that, even when it came to embracing the fact that I'm queer, I was hiding for a long time.- Samra Habib

"It was while writing the book that I realized that, even when it came to embracing the fact that I'm queer, I was hiding for a long time. I was staying in these relationships with straight men or not sharing who I was with people who I was close to. I was still hiding, even though I didn't need to hide anymore. What I'm left with now is the question: What are some of the other things in my life I'm still hiding?"

Read more in Samra Habib's interview with CBC Books.

Interviews with Samra Habib

"Just Me and Allah: A Queer Muslim Photo Project" is the brainchild of Toronto photographer Samra Habib. She joins Shad to talk about how the Tumbler series explores the beauty, and the complications, of being being both LGBT and Muslim. 11:06
Toronto photographer Samra Habib's Tumblr series Just Me and Allah: A Queer Muslim Photo Project explores the beauty, and the complications, of being being both LGBT and Muslim. 13:14

 

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