Islam is a global religion, embracing many cultures and nations, comprising over 1.8 billion people in the world as of 2015 — roughly 24 per cent of the global population. Muslims believe that God revealed to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) guidance for proper conduct in this world and salvation in the next, through revelations contained in the Muslims’ scripture, the Quran. Islam emerges as a rich, profound and multifaceted faith. In the West especially, and around the world generally, we need — more than ever — to understand where it is coming from and where it is going.

The conflicts across the world, including the 9/11 attack in New York and Washington DC, raised global awareness about Islam, but at a superficial level. Little effort has been made to understand and discover what the religion truly is, behind the mass media headlines. The media can play a vital role to educate and inform ordinary people about it.

To most Muslims, Islam is about peace and justice. Muslims around the globe are calling for urgent reforms within the Islamic world, and for some countries in the West to end their double standards, hypocrisy and bigotry.

Islam is a beautiful way of life that emphasises love, faith in God, and a spirit of charity towards all living things. Interestingly, Islamic teachings are identical to many of the common ideas about religion, faith, and justice that are prevalent in the West. Islam also influenced the Enlightenment and the Renaissance movements in Europe, as well as the Protestant Reformation.

Now, after centuries of alternating peace and conflict, the world of Islam and the West are meeting again and discovering each other anew.

- The reader is based in Cape Town, South Africa