The recently launched UAE Water Aid campaign is aiming to assist 5 million people in desperate need of clean water around the world, but the actual beneficiaries might well be the entire global Muslim population of 2 billion people. It is more timely than ever that Muslims get to demonstrate the true, charitable meaning of their faith.

This humane campaign was launched by Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai as a nationwide charity initiative during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

It couldn’t have come at a better time than this, as the Muslim world suffers – perhaps now more than ever – a horrid and unprecedented hijacking of our religion by vicious extremists who have done nothing for Islam except tarnish its image and create misunderstanding and hatred. Unfortunately, the Muslim world has come to a point where it has to decide, once and for all, where it stands in terms of direction, ideology and practices.

On one hand, we have the likes of ISIS and al-Qaeda, who will not hesitate to decapitate people of other faiths, or even their own. On the other hand, you have those genuinely good people who have opted to support a campaign like UAE Water Aid – a campaign which is truly borderless, as it pays no attention to the race, colour or religious belief of its beneficiaries.

As such, by supporting this campaign we would be helping to save the lives of millions of people of all faiths and races who would have otherwise died of thirst or diseases related to the lack of clean water. Surely, such actions better reflect Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance than the despicable, horrific acts that the likes of ISIS falsely undertake in the name of the religion.

Indeed, according to charity Water.Org there are 780 million people around the world who lack access to clean water (that is more than 2.5 times the population of the USA), while 3.4 million people die every year from a water related disease (and a child dies every 21 seconds from the same reason.)

As such, choosing which version of Islam to support is a decision for us to make, and as UAE Water Aid has already surpassed its target and will be providing water aid to 7 million people after nearly $50 million has been raised, I think the people in the UAE has clearly given an indicator of where their heart lies.

Now that Ramadan has ended, the one thing I would really like to see is how the British or American press will cover the results of this noble campaign, which has surpassed – as I expected – its target.

Surely, saving the lives of 5 million people around the world must be a story worth writing about, and given all the negative stories about Islam and Muslims in the international press, I think it is only fair that initiatives like UAE Water Aid get their fair share of column inches.

Author: Faisal J. Abbas is the editor-in-chief of Al Arabiya English. He can be found on Twitter @FaisalJAbbas.

Image: Children play during sunset inside the Khazer refugee camp on the outskirts of Arbil, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah