Reverend Terry Jones, the pastor of Dove World Outreach Centre at Gainesville, Florida, which has a congregation of not more than 30 faithfuls, made a bid to shoot into fame last year by announcing the burning of copies of the Holy Quran, but was deterred by the US government. He has finally had his moment of glory when he committed the heinous crime last month, and has been condemned by Muslims all over the world. That act, which has provoked anger and revulsion across the world, came at the end of the latest surreal stunt by Jones in his mission to get attention for his anti-Islamic beliefs. Even President Barack Obama denounced the deplorable act, and without naming Jones criticised the burning of Quran as "intolerance and bigotry." Jones is a pastor of the Christian religion, in which the prophet Christ, who is revered by Muslims too, recommends turning the other cheek to anyone who slaps you; yet his abominable act has caused wilful hurt to millions of Muslims. What Jones, in his myopic vision, did not realise was that his despicable action has not only caused the wrath of millions of Muslims all over the world, but has also endangered the lives of US combatants in Afghanistan and has already resulted in the deaths of a large number of people. The protest rallies have been the fiercest in Afghanistan; two policemen were killed and more than 30 people were wounded in Kandahar, where demonstrators marched toward the UN office. More than 20 people have died in protests across Afghanistan, including seven UN staff members. The fundamentalist pastor has unwittingly, "reintegrated" Taliban - fighters, who had formally laid down arms - although the insurgents have denied any role in the attack. Anger unleashed when protesters waved white Taliban flags, shouted "death to America", burned tires, smashed shops, and vandalised a girls' school. The Western political and military leaders, including top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, have condemned the Quran burning as well as the violence that followed. But their statements appear to have done little to placate anger across much of the Afghan society. There were protest rallies condemning Jones action in Pakistan and other Muslim countries as well, but nowhere did the mob turn violent, as it did in Afghanistan. We should definitely revile the desecration of the Holy Quran, but within limits of civility. Here one is reminded of the event described in the Quranic verse (Al-Feel), when the Abyssinian army under the leadership of Abraha attacked the Holy Makkah to demolish the Kaaba. Abraha had constructed a building for worship at Sana, Yemen. He desired that the people, instead of going to Makkah for Haj, should come to Sana to perform their pilgrimage. But the Arabs disliked it and revoked his invitation. So he decided to destroy Kaaba and attacked it with a large force comprising elephants and all the armaments of war. Proud of his army, Abraha was confident of his success. He camped at the outskirts of Makkah. His soldiers captured a few camels, grazing nearby. The camels belonged to Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Abdul Muttalib, who was a leader of the Quraish, sought audience with Abraha and was granted the same. When Abdul Muttalib appeared before him, Abraha haughtily inquired if he had come to deter him from attacking the Kaaba. Muttalibs response was that the Keeper of Kaaba was fully capable of defending His own home; he had come to ask for the return of camels for which he was responsible. History is witness how the mighty army was destroyed by Allah, who sent flocks of Ababeel (larks) with pebbles in their beaks, which annihilated the entire force. The lesson learnt is that the Holy Quran is Allahs book, which He has promised to protect. We may censure those who are disrespectful towards it, but leave the punishment to Allah or the judicial system. By being aggressive and violent, we are providing an excuse to the detractors of Islam like Jones, who takes pride in his dastardly deed and is unrepentant about it. Islam, which means 'peace, is a religion of harmony and preaches moderation. By reacting to cynics, who are critical of Islam, we are providing them an excuse to justify their barbs and denigration. The Holy Prophet (PBUH), who forgave Makkah disbelievers, who had attacked him - some of them hurling abuse and garbage on His person - had set an example of love and amity for all. Hate only begets hate and is bound to bring discord in society. Let us resolve to be tolerant, even of our critics, and set an example by deterring from their revulsion through good conduct and show of empathy rather than odium. n The writer is a political and defence analyst.