Bahrain: When sect determines your spouse

Coolred38 is an American Muslim living in Bahrain, and she often finds herself frustrated at examples of what she sees as bad and even harmful behaviour being justified by religion. She recently posted about a ‘scandal’ in the family of a friend of hers:

Long story short…Sunni girl and Shiite boy have loved each other for 5 years…secretly. Both were terrified to tell family members knowing exactly what the reaction would be… …Fear gave way to a determination to either get married with everyone's blessing…or get married and go it alone…which is basically what it boiled down to. His family are refusing to talk to him…many of her family have abandoned her. All of this hate and anger for what…cause he is Shiite and she is Sunni…aren't they both Muslim though? … I am constantly amazed at this lifelong animosity felt between these two sects of Islam…so much anger and resentment and claims that the other is not living Islam the proper way…far as I can see…the moment each became a “sect” each was not living Islam properly. Islam was meant to unite Muslims…to unite the community into a common understanding and belief. To make Muslims feel safe among each other at least if not among non Muslims. God gave us the Quran as a source of guidance to bring us together and live peacefully with each other…justice always in our thoughts and actions…and yet most Muslims spend all their lives tearing Muslims apart….but they do it with culture. It is culturally not acceptable for Sunnis to marry Shiites and vice versa…God does not forbid Muslims from marrying each other…hell if we can marry Ahal al Kitab (people of the Book) then we can damn sure marry fellow Muslims…and yet Muslims themselves have made “laws” that forbid Muslims from marrying Muslims…the ego of man knows no limits. … The one man who the girl's family assumed would go ballistic and do something apparently violent to her (or maybe the boy) turned out to be the most level headed and genuine Muslim of the whole lot….both families included. When her mother approached him (as her husband is dead so the uncle is the guardian) with this “devastating” news…shaking with certainty that this tragic news would cause fire to explode from his eyes and some sort of mini Jihad of death to automatically take over his thinking skills…he said something quite astounding to everyone who heard it. He quietly commented that if his niece loved this boy…who was he to deny her choice of a husband? … I am in awe of this Muslim man that, while professing his identity as a Muslim with his tongue…also professed it with his actions. Something few Muslims are prepared or willing to do. … I wish these two newly weds much success in life and may they have a happy and long love filled marriage that many Sunni/Sunni or Shiite/Shiite marriages do not…may God bless their marriage…even if their fellow Muslims do not.

Gardens of Sand commented on the post that she knows of many such examples:

Sad to say this animosity still goes on. While I consider myself Muslim, my father is Shi'i and my mum is Sunni. … My best friend was beat with a shoe by her mum when she professed her love for a Shi'i. … Another Sunni friend said that a cousin was old & so desperate to marry she married a Shi'i man. I could go on and on and on… Really what can you tell to people who perpetuate sectarianism all the while condemning it and/or professing innocence and claiming it's the others to blame??

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