There are many reasons to the tarnished and blemished image of Islam. This is well known and needs no further discussion.
The thing is why any faith would be misunderstood or tarnished in the first place?
The answer is the people who do not approve of the teachings do so. I am here not talking of Islam alone. You can take any religion for that matter. There have been enemies of Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and other religions too. The point here is, who would come up against any religion so far as tarnishing it or spoiling its image. Not to be surprised by the fact that even the followers of that same religion do this themselves, whether deliberately or out of lack of knowledge.
The modern man of today thinks that he is born to live freely. He should not be told to this or that. He should be doing what he likes. He should be left free. No sanctions, no laws nothing. He should enjoy free speech, free expression, free sex, free education (what kind!), free chat, free games, free coke and free....the list is endless.
So, when he has this mentality, he is not ready to accept the codes of conduct, the morality, the laws to abide by, the divine commandments and all. He thinks all this is too much for him. He has one life and he wants it to be free. To live it to the fullest. This mentality is normally of those who are unaware of the reality of life. They do not know how they were born, who gave them life, what is the purpose of creating life, this earth and all that is in it, and what happens when on dies. When they do not bother to know all this they just live in the moment. So they just want to say, "Life is to Enjoy". No harm in enjoying life if you know where you are heading to.
But the irony is that they want to live freely themselves and do not spare the other creatures! In the name of research they bombard into the dense forests and disturb the natural habitat of those peace loving animals who want to live their lives their way! They dive deep into the oceans, again in the name of research, and create so much discomfort to the otherwise calm world of the poor fish who have not caused any disturbance in their 'free living' by any chance!
Okay, fine, we take your word for 'research' for once...but tell us what is the significance of all this running from pillar to post when you are not able to find out the Creator of all that Exists?
Here comes the beauty of Islam! It lets you stay in harmony with nature. Do not harm animals unnecessarily. It is natural that some animals are created for your benefit, others for your ride, others for the natural life cycle. You are told to enjoy life, keeping the balance. You are given the free-will to act according to your choice between good and bad. You are the created beings. You all die one by one. Who gives you birth and causes you to die? You have no control over that. Where your control ends the Controller and Master is there for your guidance. Islam does not leave you wandering here and there. It teaches you values, conduct and the ways to build a structured and strong society based on purity and bonds of family units. Not only this, Islam has guidelines for business matters that build up an economically strong nation.
Islam is beautiful if applied completely and beautifully in life. But those who want personal whims and desires to play the part will blemish the beauty of its teachings.
But then, truth shines out of the density of lies.