In the beginning of Shakespeare's tragic play "Romeo and Juliet," a street brawl erupts between Montague and Capulet servants, sworn enemies who fight each other on behalf of their masters. Based on recent sectarian violence, it seems he could have been writing about Sunni and Shiite Muslims, two religious tribes currently engaged in a mutually destructive waltz stretching 1,400 years.
But that simplistic analysis betrays a rich legacy of mutual understanding, cooperation, inter-marriages and relative peace that has also defined their relationship since the death of the prophet Muhammad in 632.
My personal history is reflective of that statement.
I'm a Sunni Muslim whose best friends growing up in Fremont, Calif., were Kashif and his little brother Atif, who have described themselves as hailing from a "hardcore Shia" family. We are all shy sons of Pakistani immigrants, united by our utter dorkiness, lack of social skills and inherent love of lentils.