Today is the day of Ashura, when Imam Hussain (AS) along with his companions, was martyred after they refused to accept the aggression of Yazid. Imam Hussain (AS) preferred martyrdom over bowing down before tyranny.
Every year, I like to spread the message behind this day and event so that more and more people understand the importance of Muharram. I found a very intriguing article by Ejaz Naqvi that I wanted to share here.
The Lessons Of Karbala
The sacrifice at Karbala by Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and his family and companions against the army of the tyrant ruler Yazid was not meant for Shias only, or even Muslims only. It was a lesson for all of humanity. Through his sacrifice, he taught us how to stand up against tyranny, oppression and injustice.
Imam Hussain (As) witnessed the decline of morality and the rise of corruption within the Muslim Ummah when Yazid took over as the Khalifa of the Muslim Ummah just about 50 years after the passing of Prophet Muhammad. Yazid was known for his immorality even back then. Given the high spiritual status of Imam Hussain, he sought his allegiance- essentially an endorsement for his corrupt life style and tyrannical rule.
Refusing to pledge allegiance to a tyrant was an easy choice for Imam Hussain as he stood strong in his convictions and adherence to the Sunnah of his grandfather. He would not bow down to Yazid- even if it meant being butchered ruthlessly, and seeing his family- including his young son and the infant son being killed by the Yazid’s army.
Death With Dignity Is Better Than A Life Of Humiliation. Imam Hussain
He knew after the martyrdom of all the male adults (except for his son Ali who was critically ill at the time), the women and children will be shackled and paraded through the streets of Iraq and Syria on the way to the palace of Yazid- in an apparent show of strength and to bring humiliation to the family of Prophet Muhammad.
This is when Sayyida Zainab, Imam Hussain’s sister and the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad assumed the leadership of the remaining family of the Prophet. She addressed the onlookers lined up on the streets as the prisoners were paraded in shackles. She told the gatherings as to what actually happened in the desert of Karbala- a far and deserted land at the time in present-day Iraq. She told the crowds who they were, what they stood for and how ruthlessly Yazid’s army killed the family of the Prophet. She continued to speak out when the caravan reached the palace of Yazid and after their eventual release.
That to me was the start of the present- day “Majlis”- the gatherings to commemorate the great sacrifice.
Yazid sought to wipe out the family of Prophet Muhammad and erase them from our memory. If it weren’t for Sayyida Zainab’s courageous efforts and standing up tall in the face of grave adversity, we may have never known as to what happened in the land of Karbala 1400 years ago.
The Qur’an and Hadith on the love for Prophet’s family
…Say O Muhammad): I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives. 42:23
The reward for “it” is a reference to his labor as a messenger of God. As to who the “near relatives” are is explained by Sahih Muslim, which goes on to say that the Prophet reminded his Ummah to hold onto the Holy Qur’an and members of his family. The description makes it clear who did the prophet referred to by “family members”.
In many Hadith, Prophet Muhammad had called Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussein his family, such as: “…when the (following) verse was revealed:” Let us summon our children and your children.” Allah’s Messenger (May peace be upon him) called ‘Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain and said: O Allah, they are my family.” 
Imam Hussein’s brother, Hassan was equally loved by the Prophet, as noted in numerous Islamic history books. It is reported that Prophet Muhammad would prolong his Sajdah (prostration) if Hassan or Hussein (toddlers at the time) would get on his back. In reference to Hassan, Prophet Muhammad had this to say:
“O Allah, behold, I love him. You too love him and love one who loves him.”
Few other Hadiths from Prophet Muhammad reflecting his immense love for the two brothers:
• Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein.
• Hassan and Hussein are the leaders of the youngsters of paradise.
• Those who love him, love me, those who are his enemies are my enemies. (Narrated by Abu-Huraira)
I heard Rasulullah (messenger of God) say ‘Verily my son [Hussain] will be killed in a land called Karbala, whoever amongst you is alive at that time must go and help him.
One Who Fights Hussain, Fights The Prophet. 
Note that none of the references quoted here are from “Shia” sources, hopefully eliminating any bias Shia scholars and historians may have. In addition to the Hadith, many notable Sunni Muslims have shown their admiration for Imam Hussein and the tragedy at Karbala.
I understand that there are different ways to express mourning and in fact the lessons from the tragedy of Karbala go way beyond mourning. Karbala taught us all that we should not be afraid of speaking the truth, stand up to oppression and tyranny, be steadfast when facing adversity, fight for justice and be kind to everyone including our enemies. Let the tragedy of Karbala and the sacrifice of Imam Hussain be a source for Muslim unity, not division.
By Ejaz Naqvi