Why would God punish or restrict a woman due to her paternal lineage to only allow her to marry a certain group of men, whereas other Muslim women are allowed to marry any Muslim man?
However, I do think it's advisable to take sect into consideration when marrying, and to make sure that the husband and wife have compatible ideas about religion, especially if there is the possibility of children. However, this is general advice, not related to one's lineage.
It is not necessary to make a formal conversion. You can simply make an inner commitment to follow and respect Imam 'Ali and the other Imams, to implement the teachings of the Prophet (S) as transmitted from the family of the Prophet (S) (that is, Shi'i hadith), and to follow Shi'i religious law.
In practice, you will probably also want to find a Shi'i mosque or Shi'i gatherings to attend, if it is possible where you live. (It isn't a requirement, but most people like to spend time with people of the same faith orientation.)
There are a number of recommended practices in Shi'ism that are not required while, at the same time, are spiritually beneficial, such as reciting certain du'as on certain days, such as Du'a Kumayl on Thursday nights. One can find more information on these things on the websites www.duas.org. Attending gatherings for these can also be both spiritually and socially beneficial, although they are not considered necessary in the same way the salat is necessary.
In terms of deepening one's knowledge of the Shi'i tradition, there are a lot of good videos on YouTube and on sites such as ShiaTV.Net as well as sites from mosques (for instance, broadcasting Friday sermons), and also a lot of books available, including on al-islam.org.
[Note that I am putting these resources for information only, not implying that you do not have knowledge of these subjects already! However someone else might come across this response and find the links useful.]
The narrations claiming that the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) instructed Abu Bakr to lead the prayers during his last sickness is not authentic at all. The main narrator is just one person who is Ayisha the daughter of Abu Bakr. Another narrator is 'O'rwah Ibn al-Zubair ,the sin of Asmaa' who is Ayisha's real sister. 'O'rwah was not even born in the time of incident, beside his own benefit to support his the claim of his aunt for political reasons. 'O'rwah fought against Imam Ali in the battle of Jamal (The Camel). He was a staunch enemy of Imam Ali (AS) till the end of his life.
Lot of people were present near the Prophet during his last sickness, but none of them narrated such incident. The Masjid was full of Muslims, but none of them narrated that the Prophet sent Abu Bakr to lead the prayers. On the contrary, authentic narrations stated that Ayisha while the Prophet was not well, told her father to go to the Masjid to lead the prayers with out informing the Prophet. When the Prophet was cane to know, he tolerated his heavy illness and went to the Masjid and dragged Abu Bakr back and led the prayers. If Abu Bakr was really sent by the Prophet to lead the prayer, then why did the Prophet drag him back and prevent him from leading the prayers.
Even if Abu Bakr was told to lead the prayers, which never happened, leading the prayers can never be an evidence to be a successor of the Prophet as it is a clear fact that the Prophet used to order a man (Ibn Abi Maktoom) to lead the prayers in his Masjid when he away from Madinah. Can any one claim that that man is the successor after the Prophet?
This fabricated story aims to justify ignoring the clear orders and obvious allegiance which was taken from Muslims in the Day of Ghadeer to follow Ali (AS) after the Prophet (SAWA).
I did not find any authentic Hadeeth in Shia books of Hadeeth suggesting that most of Dajjal's followers will be women. It is narrated in many Sunni books e.g. Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal from Abdullah Ibn Omar.
Shia Muslims mourn the tragedies of the Prophet (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bayt (AS) more than any other Muslim sect. No doubt, the tragedy of Imam Husain (AS) in Karbala is the greatest tragedy in the history of human kind looking at the details of it and the way it happened and the victims from infant child to women to the Imam himself and the inhuman acts by the enemies even by preventing Imam Husain and his family from drinking water despite being on the bank of the river, and other details of the tragedy which was declared by Imam Hasan before Karbala (No tragedy will be like your tragedy O Aba Abdillah (Husain)).
Our mourning on the tragedies of Imam Husain (AS) is according to greatness the deepest extent of the tragedies.
No other Muslim sect mourn the tragedies of the Prophet (SAWA) and his Progeny like the Shia Muslims.
Imagine a gang of thieves that was planning to rob a bank in the dead of night as they were aware that it had recently received delivery of some gold bullion.
Another gang, smaller and less powerful, finds out about their plans and seeks to pre-empt them by reaching the bank earlier in order to raid it first.
Whoever steals the gold first will keep it, right?
When the first gang finds out, they rush to the bank to find their rivals about to make their plunder.
They attempt to stop them. The second gang, seeing that they are going to lose to this stronger gang, offer to divide the goods 50-50.
The first gang does not agree to the deal and wants everything for itself.
There is a gunshot and one of their rival gang members is killed.
The powerful gang triumphs and walks away with their loot.
Here is the question: would you expect, in that moment, for either of the gangs to be discussing who the gold bullion actually and rightfully belonged to?
I leave you with the narrative on what transpired at Saqifa Bani Sa'ida from Sahih al-Bukhari in the words of one of the participants, ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, who famously explained how Abu Bakr came to power when he feared that people were planning to give allegiance to ‘Ali after him:
(O people!) I have been informed that a speaker amongst you says, 'By Allah, if `Umar should die, I will give the pledge of allegiance to such-and-such person.'
One should not deceive oneself by saying that the pledge of allegiance given to Abu Bakr was given suddenly and it was successful. No doubt, it was like that, but Allah saved (the people) from its evil, and there is none among you who has the qualities of Abu Bakr.
Remember that whoever gives the pledge of allegiance to anybody among you without consulting the other Muslims, neither that person, nor the person to whom the pledge of allegiance was given, are to be supported, lest they both should be killed.
And no doubt after the death of the Prophet (ﷺ) we were informed that the Ansar disagreed with us and gathered in the shed of Bani Sa`da.
`Ali and Zubair and whoever was with them, opposed us, while the emigrants gathered with Abu Bakr.
I said to Abu Bakr, 'Let's go to these Ansari brothers of ours.' So we set out seeking them, and when we approached them, two pious men of theirs met us and informed us of the final decision of the Ansar, and said, 'O group of Muhajirin (emigrants) ! Where are you going?' We replied, 'We are going to these Ansari brothers of ours.'
They said to us, 'You shouldn't go near them. Carry out whatever we have already decided.'
I said, 'By Allah, we will go to them.' And so we proceeded until we reached them at the shed of Bani Sa`da. Behold! There was a man sitting amongst them and wrapped in something. I asked, 'Who is that man?' They said, 'He is Sa`d bin 'Ubada.' I asked, 'What is wrong with him?' They said, 'He is sick.'
After we sat for a while, the Ansar's speaker said, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' and praising Allah as He deserved, he added, 'To proceed, we are Allah's Ansar (helpers) and the majority of the Muslim army, while you, the emigrants, are a small group and some people among you came with the intention of preventing us from practicing this matter (of caliphate) and depriving us of it.'
When the speaker had finished, I intended to speak as I had prepared a speech which I liked and which I wanted to deliver in the presence of Abu Bakr, and I used to avoid provoking him. So, when I wanted to speak, Abu Bakr said, 'Wait a while.' I disliked to make him angry.
So Abu Bakr himself gave a speech, and he was wiser and more patient than I. By Allah, he never missed a sentence that I liked in my own prepared speech, but he said the like of it or better than it spontaneously.
After a pause he said, 'O Ansar! You deserve all (the qualities that you have attributed to yourselves, but this question (of Caliphate) is only for the Quraish as they are the best of the Arabs as regards descent and home, and I am pleased to suggest that you choose either of these two men, so take the oath of allegiance to either of them as you wish.
And then Abu Bakr held my hand and Abu Ubaida bin al-Jarrah's hand who was sitting amongst us. I hated nothing of what he had said except that proposal, for by Allah, I would rather have my neck chopped off as expiator for a sin than become the ruler of a nation, one of whose members is Abu Bakr, unless at the time of my death my own-self suggests something I don't feel at present.'
And then one of the Ansar said, 'I am the pillar on which the camel with a skin disease (eczema) rubs itself to satisfy the itching (i.e., I am a noble), and I am as a high class palm tree! O Quraish. There should be one ruler from us and one from you.' Then there was a hue and cry among the gathering and their voices rose so that I was afraid there might be great disagreement, so I said, 'O Abu Bakr! Hold your hand out.' He held his hand out and I pledged allegiance to him, and then all the emigrants gave the Pledge of allegiance and so did the Ansar afterwards.
And so we became victorious over Sa`d bin Ubada (whom Al-Ansar wanted to make a ruler).
One of the Ansar said, 'You have killed Sa`d bin Ubada.' I replied, 'Allah has killed Sa`d bin Ubada.'
`Umar added, "By Allah, apart from the great tragedy that had happened to us (i.e. the death of the Prophet), there was no greater problem than the allegiance pledged to Abu Bakr because we were afraid that if we left the people, they might give the Pledge of allegiance after us to one of their men, in which case we would have given them our consent for something against our real wish, or would have opposed them and caused great trouble. So if any person gives the Pledge of allegiance to somebody (to become a Caliph) without consulting the other Muslims, then the one he has selected should not be granted allegiance, lest both of them should be killed."
Source - Sahih al-Bukhari - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)
Islam allows every one to express his feelings of happiness or sadness in his own way as far as it does include a sinful act like drinking alcohol or dancing etc. Human beings all over the world have different cultures and they are allowed to express their feelings according to what they feel suitable within the frame of Shariah.
Mourning the tragedies of Imam Husain (AS) and all Ahlul Bayt (AS) is a sign of love of the Prophet (SAWA) and his Progeny Ahlul Bayt (SAWA). Those who do not mourn such tragedies reflect that they do not feel a degree of love. The Prophetic Hadeeth says: No one from you O Muslims will be a believer till he loves me and my Progeny more than his love to himself and his family.
We ask those Muslims who do not mourn nor care for the tragedies of Imam Husain (AS): If any of your beloved ones faces a tragedy, what will be your feeling for him? Then why do you ignore the tragedies of Imam Husain?
The Prophet himself mourned and wept on this tragedy before it took place ( Al-Mo'jam Al-Kabeer by Al-Tabarani ( 2811) Sunan al-Tirmithi 3774, and Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal , V.1, P.85 and Al-Mustadrak 'Alaa Saheehain by al-Haakim al-Nisabori , V.3, P. 176, and Al-Bidayah WAL Nihayah by Ibn al-Atheer , 8:200, and many other Sunni books).
The basic fact is this : Every lover of the Prophet (SAWA) must feel sad for the tragedies of the Prophet and his Progeny, otherwise his claim to be a lover of the Prophet (SAWA) will be questionable.
The way of expressing the sad feelings depends on the person himself or herself and his culture and society. We have no right to dictate on people from different cultures what we think suitable according to our own culture and society.
Beating the chest to express sadness and grief is used by people in many cultures. Even Ay'sha daughter of Abu Bakr used to beat her chest on the death of beloved person as you can find it in many Sunni books e.g. Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal ; Hadeeth number 25144, and Musnad Abi Ya'la ;V.8, P. 63, and Al-Bayhaqi Dala'il Al-Nubowwah , Hadeeth 3151 and Ibn Sa'ad in al-Tabaqaat al-Kubra,V2, P.261 and Ibn al-Atheer in al-Kaamil fil Rareekh, V.2, P. 322 and many other Sunni books..
You have the choice to go to the wedding or to not go to the wedding. It is not required to observe days of mourning for days of wafat or shahadat (death/martyrdom), it is only recommended. Weddings are also optional.
In my view, if you have a good relationship with your family, or if you will regret missing the wedding, then you should go. Allah knows that your intention in your heart is not to disrespect the Prophet (S) and to maintain family ties, and maintaining family ties is also good. The Prophet (S) was compassionate and merciful and would be unlikely to criticise you for this!
However, you also have the choice not to go, and it isn't necessary to go.
This is as long as it doesn't involve disrespect to the religion. Most Muslims don't know that the 28th Safar is the death anniversary of the Prophet (S), and don't commemorate this, so they aren't intentionally being disrespectful when they schedule a wedding. However, for instance, if someone schedules a wedding on Ashura, and they know some Muslims commemorate Ashura, then maybe attending the wedding would convey disrespect to Ashura or give them the idea that you don't take your faith seriously.
The biggest emphasis in our tradition is on avoiding celebrations on Ashura. It is also good to avoid celebrations on other sad days, but the biggest emphasis is on Ashura.
There are a lot of shahadat/wafat days that are commemorated, so, sometimes, in an environment where not everyone shares the same religious traditions, it can be difficult to observe all of them!
1. Both Shia and Sunni scholars emphasised on the authenticity of all the narrators of every Hadeeth, but they differ when they come across some narrators who are controversial e.g. Abu Huraira, Samarah Ibn Jundob, etc who are considered as accepted by many Sunnis while not accepted by Shia scholars because of their behaviour against Ahlul Bayt(AS).
2. Shia scholars follow the most strict procedure of authentication of every narrator whether Shia or Sunni.
3. Shia scholars take Ahlul Bayt as the main source of the authentic Hadeeths from the Prophet (SAWA) not only because they are the most pious and most knowledgeable about the Real Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWA) as they lived with him, but also because of the order of the Prophet (SAWA) to all Muslims to keep following Quran and Ahlul Bayt (SAWA) (Saheeh Muslim, Hadeeth number 4425, and Tirmithi; Hadeeth number 3718 and 3720, and al-Mustadrak by Al-Haakim al-Nisabori; Hadeeth number 4576 and hundreds of other Sunni and Shia books.
4. Shia scholars have written the Hadeeths right from the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and through the times of all the Infallible Imams (AS), while Sunni scholars were forbidden by their rulers from writing any Prophetic Hadeeth from the time of Saqeefa till the time of Umar ibn Abdul Azeez who was first Sunni ruler who lifted tha ban on writing Hadeeths, which means that Sunni scholars did not write Hadeeths for around hundred years. That has definitely affected the authenticity and the accuracy of their narrations.
5. Sunni rulers used to interfere in religion to suit their political aims. Mu'awiyah for example used to pay huge amounts of money to some narrators to fabricate narrations in his favour and against Ahlul Bayt (AS). He used to kill or torture scholars who narrate any Hadeeth in favour of Imam Ali (AS). This corruption went on during tyrant governments of Bani Umayyad and Bani Abbas. Shia Hadeeths since beginning till now are pure from any political corruption.
6. Shia scholars following the teachings of Ahlul Bayt(AS) do not accept any narration which contradicts Quran, while you find many Sunni scholars narrate narration which are clearly against Quranic verses and claim than authentic narration is accepted even if it contradicts a Quranic verse. For details you may see ( A review of the two Saheeh ( Bukhari and Muslim) by Shaikh Sadiq Najmi and ( (Quick look at the two Saheehs, by Shaikh Aasif Mohsini and many other books in this subject).
7. Many Sunni books narrated from open enemies of Ahlul Bayt and considered their narrations as authentic. Bukhari narrated from Imran Ibn Hattaan who used to praise Ibn Muljam, the murderer of Imam Ali (AS), and also from Uthman ibn Hareez who used to openly curse Imam Ali every day. This shows that some non trusted narrators have penetrated in some Sunni books and taken as trusted narrators. This has added to the difference between Muslims.
At first we must differentiate between the seven methods of recitation of the Quran, and the concept of the descending of the Quran in seven letters or styles (aḥruf). The first is called al-qirā'āt al-sab', and the second is called nuzūl al-Qurān 'ala sab' at ahruf.
In regards to the concept of the Quran coming down in seven letters, the Shi'a view of this is that it is a myth and cannot be accepted.
As for what does the word ḥarf here mean, Sunni scholars have mentioned up to forty views for this.
As for the Quran being preserved, this is the strong opinion of Shia Ulama.
Please read this information, from al-Bayan, by the late A.U. Seyid Khoei.
Yes, it is permissible to pray behind a Sunni Imam, for the purpose of Islamic unity. Of course, details of this issue must be taken from the specific fatwa of your Marja' taqleed.
And Allah knows best.