New Convert: family
Question : I am a male in my mid-thirties and have recently reverted to Islam, although my family has not. I have been with my partner for 15 years and have three children together, but we have never married. Is this seen as prohibited by Almighty Allah?
Answer : There must be a marital relation between you two. Without marriage, sexual relationship with her is prohibited.

Question : I feel that some people have distanced themselves from me after they came to know that I am prostrating on a Turbah after becoming Shia. Is it obligatory to use the Turbah in prostration?
Answer : It is a condition in the validity of the prayer to prostrate on earth and what grows from it if it was not used for human consumption or in clothing. It is better to prostrate on the Turbah. We advise you to openly express and explain your faith if you do not fear for yourself. Most importantly, try to deal with those who do not believe in your faith with goodness and avoid any aggravation.
Question : What is your ruling on apostates who convert from Islam to another religion? In your expert opinion, is there a punishment? If so, what is it?
Answer : There is no doubt that they deserve a very high punishment in the Hereafter. Almighty Allah said: “As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into darkness. Such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein.” (2:257)
The punishment in this life is not our duty.
Question : My name is ___ Cruz. My Muslim name is Muhammad Asad. If i wanted to change my name to my Muslim name should I change my last name? I know we should not change our family names but my last name is a Christian name Cruz means \"dweller near a cross. Cruz means cross, referring to the cross of the Crucifixion of Christ\" so should I change my name to Asad or leave it alone.
Answer : It is not obligatory to change the last or even the first name and changing
the names is done in order to merge with Muslims
Question :

I have converted to Islam 5 years ago, and I am interest in becoming a Shia. However, I have been battling in my heart if I should be Sunni or Shia, and I require guidance from scholars to clear confusion.
My question is about the videos I see of people beating themselves with whips and swords sometimes until they bleed. Is this practice from the Sharia of the Shia faith, or is this practice something innovated by a small group of people who are following their own desires instead of any real authority in al Islam? If it is from the Sharia and it is one of the beloved actions to Allah then would you kindly explain this act to me, as it confuses me.

Answer :

Thank you for contacting us and we emphasize our interest in submitting what can be to serve the truth and reality. We want to draw your attention to an important issue in your journey to seek the truth and pick the right path which is that you should search for the evidences that each side claims to prove the correctness of its views. So, you should search for what the Shia give as proof of the obligation of following the Ahlulbait after the death of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and do not look for the details at the present stage. Once the arguments are proven to you and you choose to follow the Ahlulbait, then you can look for explanations of their practices. If you are convinced, you can practice them, otherwise you can refuse to practice them. If you were to start searching for the explanations for the details of the practices then this might confuse you more.
The thing that the Imams of the Ahlulbait emphasized on is the mourning and expressing pain and passion because of the oppression that the Ahlubait were subjected to, and the tragedies and hardships they faced. The course of practice that believers choose to express the mentioned obligation is entirely personal. Some express their feelings towards Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) and his companions and his household by crying, expressing their sadness and wearing black clothes. Others do so by slapping their chests. Some others self-flagellate to the extent of bleeding as a way to express their grief and sorrow, mourning for the Imam and his family and companions as they were killed and stabbed with spears, swords and arrows.

Legitimate Birth
Question :

I am western and converted to Islam, my parents are not Muslims, and I am of illegitimate birth. Can I lead a congregational prayer?

Answer :

If the sexual relations that lead to having a baby was based on a form of marriage - even if it was not Islamic, the child born from such a marriage will be considered to be from legitimate birth, and it is permissible for such a person to lead the congregational prayer.
If the aforementioned relation of the parents was not based on such a marriage, then the child is not considered from legitimate birth and cannot lead the prayers.

Woman Accepting Islam
Question :

If a Christian woman converts to Islam and her husband does not, how long is her iddah? What if they both convert to Islam together?

Answer :

If the wife and the husband embraced Islam together, the marriage remains valid.
If the wife embraced Islam before consummating the marriage but the husband did not, then the marriage contract is void. If she converted to Islam after consummating the marriage, then she should wait for the duration of the iddah. If the husband converts to Islam during the iddah period, then the marriage remains valid. If he did not convert at all, or he converted after the completion of the duration of iddah, then the marriage contract is void.
The iddah in such a case is the same as the iddah of divorce, which is the period until she sees the beginning of her third menses.