Identifying the single representative weltanschauung for Islam ultimately proves to be difficult. There must certainly be some unifying presupposition (s) to which all Muslims adhere; but the parsing of perfunctory elements, no matter how salient they seem, from indispensable elements of Islamic orthodoxy will demand a narrowing of the scope of current apologetic efforts. As such, there is a general trend within Christian apologetics to try and reduce such perfunctory elements to absurdity. Unfortunately, an apologetic aimed at dispelling the errata of Islam’s obligatory customs proves unhelpful, either positively or negatively, in providing Christians with a tenable response to the fundamental claims of Islam. Those fundamental claims, then, must be clearly articulated, fairly appraised, and systematically refuted where necessary. Islam’s fundamental theological claims, and consequently the loci for Islam’s weltanschauung, all originate from the Five Pillars of Islam.
The first pillar, the Great Confession or “Shahada” declares that, “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” According to Braswell, this assertion of monotheism and belief in Muhammad as the final prophet of Allah entails necessarily ancillary doctrines of angels, sacred texts (of which the Qur’an is the preeminent), judgment and an afterlife; it is the “basis of the belief system.” Tim Winter provides important insight into the Islamic understanding of the Shahada and subsequent Islamic theology explaining that theology can only be recognized as Islamic, “to the extent that it may be traced back in some way to the prophet Muhammad and his distinctive vision of the One God.” Consequently, there are other beliefs and theological reflections that contribute to Islamic weltanschauung, but only as they can be traced through the Qur’an to Muhammad via the proclamation of the Shahada.
The second pillar, prayer or “Salat” constitutes much of the liturgy and ceremonial conduct of worship in Islam. In Islam, the place of adulation and personal exchange with God all takes place in daily prayers. The third pillar, almsgiving or “Zakat,” is the discipline in which Muslims are called to serve and minister to their community through giving. The fourth pillar, ritual fasting or “Saum,” calls for a period of abstinence from drinking, eating, and other sensual pleasures during the month of Ramadan. The fifth pillar, the pilgrimage or “Hajj,” obliges every faithful Muslim to visit Mecca.
There is a clear proclamation on behalf of Islam that Muhammad was correcting the way in which Christianity corrupted the message God had given to the Jews. As such, Muhammad and his successors saw the Qur’an as an effort by Allah to set the record straight regarding a “confessional world complicated by Christian disputes.” Naturally, Christians are going to respond in like fashion. Albeit there are some similarities, there are fundamental conflicts between Christians and Muslims. Whether there is distinction in the God-head, whether the Qur’an is a revelation from God and consistent with the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and whether Muhammad is a prophet of God are all matters in need of serious attention.
Problematically, some Christian polemicists have abandoned addressing these fundamental claims, and they have resorted to unhelpful tactics. By way of example, Richard Cimino argues that Evangelical Christians, in particular, have pushed rhetoric about Islam to a polemically fevered pitch as a kind of nationalistic, fear mongering response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This ought to be received as a stinging criticism that is indicative of a willingness to focus on what are seen as devious practices within Islamic culture by Christians instead of making lucid arguments against their foundational claims. According to Cimino, this is problematic because much of the positive, global-apologetic toward Muslims argued by polemicists like Ergun Caner centers on a characterization of Islam as dangerous, militant, and cultic. However, this should all be tempered by Thomas Kidd’s research, which demonstrates plainly that such anti-Islamic polemics as Cimino describes were being leveled against Muslims by “Anglo-Americans” as early as 1697.
So, while there is definitely an attempt to demonize the Islamic weltanschauung on the basis of mischaracterization, while there have been periods of interfaith dialogue initiated by Christians and spoiled by terrorists, and while there are clear examples of current Evangelical scholars focusing their apologetic efforts on ancillary issues within Islam, such behavior in no way belongs exclusively to the modern Evangelical movement. That particular characterization by Cimino is unwarranted. Nonetheless, Christian apologists should avoid being trapped by polemics preoccupied by what amount to “straw men” parading around as reductio ad absurdum arguments. There is sufficient dispute to be had with the foundational presuppositions of Islam to diminish the expediency of such distractions.
Perhaps the most direct conflicts between the truth claims of Christianity and Islam come from the Shahada. The Islamic understanding of the Great Confession places Muslim theology at odds with Christian theology regarding the Trinity, the juxtaposition of Jesus and Muhammad, and the message of the New Testament. Islamic thought on the tawhid, or “Oneness” of God, is extremely prohibitive of any notion that derived distinction within the person of God. Muhammad revealed through the writing of the Qur’an that Jesus was indeed a prophet of Allah, but that he was not the Son of God, and was succeeded by Muhammad, the final prophet. Finally, the Qur’an teaches that the divisions between Jews and Christians were the result of the revelation of God given to Jesus, the Injeel, being corrupted by the early church.
What, then, should be the approach Christians use in positive apologetics to Muslims? A simple response is to use the truth of Scripture and the testimony of the Qur’an about Jesus and God. Surely, demonstrating how the doctrine of the Trinity maintains the tawhid of God within Islamic conceptualization will become an important element to bridging the gap between the two. Additionally, settling some of the theological issues that Muslim’s have with Trinitarian theology would necessarily affect their doctrinal concerns over Jesus and the Gospel account recorded in the New Testament. If the Trinity maintains tawhid, then the notion that Jesus is the Son of God is tenable, and there is no need to doubt the veracity of the New Testament accounts. Perhaps to Caner’s frustration and Geisler’s delight, John D.C. Anderson says, “I have never met a Muslim-background believer who regards the God he previously sought to worship as a wholly false god. Instead, he is filled with wonder and gratitude, that he has now been brought to know that God as he really is, in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
 However, this claim ought not to be interpreted as saying there is no value in such critiques, only that they prove unhelpful in demonstrating that Muslim presuppositions are fundamentally flawed.
 Apologists should appreciate all the while, of course, that many scholars find a great deal of theological overlap within the monotheistic traditions, ultimately making the apologetic effort easier in many ways. See Michael Ipgrave, ed., Building a Better Bridge: Muslims, Christians, and the Common Good (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2008), which features articles by Rowan Williams and Timothy Winter; Hans Küng, Der Islam: Geschichte, Gegenwart, Zukunft (Munich: Piper Verlag, 2004); and Wilfred Cantwell Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991).
 See George W. Braswell, Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996), 59; Ed Hindson, and Ergun Caner, eds., The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 279; and Keith E. Swartley, ed., Encountering the World of Islam (Atlanta: Authentic Media, 2005), 88.
 Braswell, Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power, 59.
 Ibid., 60
 Tim Winter, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 5.
 Braswell, Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power, 60; Swartley, Encountering the World of Islam, 90.
 Swartley, Encountering the World of Islam, 92.
 Ibid., 95.
 Winter, The Cambridge Companion, 5.
 In fact, there is remarkable continuity between the other four Pillars of Islam and the broader expression of Christian belief and practice as seen in the “catholic Church.” Swartley provides a helpful chart in demonstrating the biblical corollaries to the Pillars of Islam. See Swartley, Encountering the World of Islam, 94.
 Richard Cimino, “‘No God in Common:’ American Evangelical Discourse on Islam after 9/11,” Review of Religious Research 47, no. 2 (December 2005): 162-74. Perhaps more immediately troublesome for students of Liberty Theological Seminary is the fact that Cimino singles out Ergun Caner’s Unveiling Islam as a polemic set out not only to demonize Islam, but also to “dispel the position of Geisler and Saleeb that Allah is the same God (Jehovah) that Christians and Jews worship.” See Cimino, “‘No God in Common,’” 166. Interestingly, Caner has included Geisler as a contributor in his Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. While Caner must certainly be given the berth to respectfully disagree with even those he includes in his edited works, all of the articles concerning Islam in the Popular Encyclopedia are authored by Caner. It may all prove coincidental, but such a situation only helps to strengthen Cimino’s critique.
 Thomas S. Kidd, “‘Is It Worse to Follow Mahomet than the Devil?’ Early American Uses of Islam,” Church History 72, no. 4 (December 2003): 773.
 Braswell, Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power, 45; Swartley, Encountering the World of Islam, 135-137. Winter also makes an interesting point, “Its [monotheism] inbuilt paradoxes, which had already exercised divided Jews and Christians, ensured that most Muslim thinkers came to recognize the need for a formal discipline of argument and proof which could establish the proper sense of a scripture which turned out to be open to many different interpretations.” See Winter, The Cambridge Companion, 6.
 Braswell, Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power, 278-284; Swartley, Encountering the World of Islam, 35-36.
 Braswell, Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power, 249-252; Swartley, Encountering the World of Islam, 292-295.
John D.C. Anderson, “The Missionary Approach to Islam,” Missiology 4, no. 3 (1976), 295.