Below is a list of responses you are likely to get when talking about the terrifying brilliance of Islam to someone who knows little about it. The responses link to an article giving you suggestions about how to effectively respond.
If you ever come across a response not on our list, and you have difficulty answering it, please let us know; we'll work on it and add it to the list.
The good news is that the responses you will typically get are a fairly small number. You'll hear the same few objections over and over (1-7 are the most common). When you have some good answers to these objections ready at hand, you will be able to answer smoothly and with poise, without feeling tense or antagonistic.
We're hoping you will add more possible responses or advice in the comments on the articles linked below. And if you have any possible answers to the unlinked responses below, we'd love to hear them.
When you talk about Islam with non-Muslims, they are likely to say one of the following:
1. But it is just a small minority of extremists.
2. My friend is a Muslim and he's really nice.
3. What you're saying is racist.
4. Aren't you being religiously intolerant? People in this country have a right to worship as they please. Isn't religious tolerance one of our most important principles?
5. Christianity is just as bad.
6. Not all Muslims are terrorists.
7. We can't go to war with 1.3 billion Muslims!
8. Are you an Islamophobe?
9. Isn't this bigotry?
10. Are you a hatemonger? I don't believe in promoting hatred.
11. You should really talk to some Muslims. You're getting all this from books.
12. There are peaceful passages in the Qur'an too.
13. People take what they want from any writings. You can pretty much justify anything if you quote it out of context.
14. There are millions of Muslims in this country and they're not blowing things up.
15. You are a xenophobe.
16. Fundamentalism is fundamentalism.
17. Haven't mosques and churches and synagogues sat side-by-side in the Middle East for a thousand years?
18. You're taking the verses of the Quran out of context.
19. But jihad is an internal struggle.
20. Criticizing Islam will push the moderates into the arms of the extremists.
21. You're cherry-picking verses out of the Quran.
22. Wouldn't it be better to support the peaceful Muslims (than to criticize the violent ones)?
23. What about the good verses in the Quran?
24. The majority of Muslims are peace-loving people.
25. Who are we to tell Muslims to change their beliefs?
26. What can we do about it?
I also have an all-purpose response to any objection you get. Simply ask: "How did you learn about Islam?" Your question will probably reveal to both of you how little the other knows about Islam, and that is a good place to start.
For more good responses, check out Frequently Asked Questions from Islam 101. The author, Gregory M. Davis, provides some good answers.