In our societies over the last few decades, the pursuit of individual freedom has been promoted and encouraged; but this has tended to lean over into narcissism and selfishness and a lack of awareness about the needs of our fellow human beings around us. furthermore, freedom without knowledge is of no use. We don't have much of a wisdom tradition in our societies anymore. Islam is a wisdom tradition that provides the seeker with the knowledge of how to manage life's challenges.
Islam encourages the fulfilling of rights towards others: the rights of parents, of children, of animals, of plants. Its vision is that we are part of a social network and that interacting with other human beings in a way that fulfils their rights and fulfils the needs of justice requires proper study, learning and practice.
Islam teaches a different kind of freedom: freedom from of the vicissitudes of life. It teaches detachment from worldly desires so that one is not a slave to the world, nor to one's desires.
It teaches the importance of dignity, and also the importance of standing up to tyranny. One can be 'anti-establishment' without destroying oneself.
The banning of all intoxicants prevents the potentially vulnerable from killing themselves or slipping into alcoholism.
It establishes a brotherhood based upon ethical behaviour and spiritual bonds. The bond between Muslims is sacred.
It teaches reliance on the Transcendent, which in turn cultivates courage in the face of difficulties. Shi'i Islam in particular teaches about the importance of cultivating the intellect; of being an intelligent believer. Islam is against blind following of beliefs.
It teaches about a 'deeper way of being' where the spiritual aspect of the human being is central to our life in the world. It has many methods for enhancing our spiritual sense.
It is a disciplined way of life that provides stability in world where, outside of one's working routine, one could otherwise be in total chaos - as social life has often been since the 1970s.
It is about facing the reality of life and death and preparing oneself for a journey into the next world.
It teaches men and women to treat each other with respect; lude jesting is prohibited, as is any touching between unrelated men and women. This means that either sex does not have to tolerate verbal abuse which is often dismissed as 'office banter', or physical abuse either.
Our children today live in an adult's world and are exposed to everything that adults indulge in, and that is because adults have put the pursuit of their freedom first, which has led to an unconsciousness and unawareness of the kind world that has been created for children. The care of and attention towards children is of prime importance in Islam.
These are just some introductory points.