How do you respond to what Christians say about Islam?
There is inevitably a fundamental difference between the way Muslims view Christianity and the way Christians view Islam. Since Muhammad came after Christianity had become established the religion that came out of Muhammad's mission viewed Christianity as in need of purifying because the teachings of Jesus had been distorted. In contrast to this Christians are face with a choice. Either Islam is the true religion, Muhammad is a genuine prophet and the Christian should become a Muslim or Islam is a big lie and it must be fought in its entirety. This difference in perspective means that Muslim criticism of Christianity is usually mild, concentrating on only those aspects of Christianity that it considers distortions of the teachings of Jesus, whereas Christian criticism of Islam tries to discredit any part of Islam that gives credibility to its message. The situation is made more difficult for Trinitarian Christians because of the doctrine of salvation. For such people it is primarily the belief in the incarnation of God as a man that they believe guarantees their salvation. Any doubt in this doctrine is tantamount to not really having this belief. and to ever entertain the possibility that Islam is the true religion is to entertain exactly this doubt. This makes the choice much starker: considering the possibility that Islam is the true religion or fighting it.
Christian attacks on Islam date from the Crusades during which 'Western culture' found its first real sense of identity. This identity was defined as being fundamentally hostile to Islam. Not Islam as it really is but a completely unapologetic pack of lies about Islam. To mention such things may seem a bit strange because it is so far in the past. However, the level of ignorance about Islam continues to astonish and part of this ignorance is due to the persistence of this Christian reaction to Islam - to lie about it. The type of lie has moved on of course because truth eventually prevails. Although some Christians still use them, the charges that Muslims worship Al-Lut (a pre-Islamic pagan god for the moon), or that the use of the honorific title "we" in the Qur'an implies a plurality or trinity of God, or that Muslims are sexually promiscuous, or that Muhammad was the chief idol they worshipped are no longer even remotely tenable. The allegations made to try and discredit Islam these days focus on a number of things none of which stand up to any serious scrutiny. I do not wish to imply that everyone who makes these allegations is a liar - this is certainly not the case. Rather I suppose what typically happens is that some one is all too keen to find something vaguely discrediting and jumps to ignorant conclusions. Either that or they deliberately hide something of what they know so as to present only half the picture. These allegations then get repeated without enough concern for investigating them properly at that stage.
I shall focus on a few categories of allegations to illustrate the point. The following links respond to allegations made on the "Answering Islam" website (see external links page).
There are internal contradictions in the Qur'an!
There are grammar mistakes in the Qur'an!
I feel obliged at this point to acknowledge the help of Abdel Haleem Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London. He has been very kind to help me in providing the answers to the points raised in the above links in particular the grammar points which I am not at all qualified to answer myself.
In response to the grammar points Professor Abdel Haleem suggests "The authors of this page should spend time learning Classical Arabic and Quranic stylistics (Asaaliib al-Bayaan) and they would perhaps not make such mistakes."