The renowned poet from the Abbasid era, Abu Tayyib al-Mutanabbi,  (915-965), once wisely said,
إِذَا رأيت نيوب الليثِ باريزَةً فَلا تَظننَّ أَنَّ اللَّيثَ يَبتسِم
“If you see the lion’s canines, do not think that the lion is smiling.” 
This poignant verse resonates with the current reality facing Palestine, particularly in light of the ongoing normalisation efforts between Saudi Arabia and Israel. 
It is crucial for Palestinians to recognise that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries may not necessarily prioritise their interests.
Even Benjamin Netanyahu has explicitly stated that the Palestinian issue is not a precondition for Saudi Arabia’s engagement. 
How many Gulf states are true allies of Palestine?
Saudi Arabia’s role as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques can sometimes be leveraged to shape public perceptions within the Muslim world.
However, it is essential to acknowledge that this position does not automatically translate into unwavering support for Palestinian causes.
Recognising that many Arab countries — including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and other Gulf states — may not be genuine allies of Palestine or hold deep concerns for the broader Muslim community can mark the beginning of genuine progress.
Saudi Arabia does not stand as a friend to Palestine
In this context, an informed and discerning Muslim can see through the façades presented by the so-called new Saudi ambassador to Palestine and the seemly care for the Palestinian causes.
In the mind of a conscious Muslim, there should be no doubt that the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, do not stand as friends of Palestine or the broader Muslim community. Their actions have been notably limited, with little more than empty words to offer.
For instance, Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, expressed his support through a phone call to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, saying,
“We stand with you.” 
In contrast, Bahrain did not even bother to issue any condemnation, and leaders in the United Arab Emirates appeared to take satisfaction in blaming Hamas.
Bearing the responsibility within every Muslim home
In such trying times, what is the responsibility of a Muslim, when hope seems elusive from a human perspective?
The fate of Palestine and its people is not solely dependent on the Muslim rulers, as many have shown themselves to be instruments of Zionist interests and often unfaithful to the cause of aligning with the Prophet’s legacy (ﷺ).
Now, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of ordinary Muslims.
The Palestinian struggle is not exclusive to a particular group; it’s a struggle that resonates in every Muslim household, despite differences in perspectives and levels of integration, the consensus still supports the struggle.
It should be a source of profound concern, not only from a humanitarian standpoint — which is undeniably crucial — but also from a deep-seated religious conviction. The people of Shām, the region encompassing Palestine and surrounding areas, hold a special status, and they are people of honour and dignity, as emphasised by the Qur’ān and the Prophetic tradition.
Allah (may He be exalted) says,
سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِۦ لَيْلًۭا مِّنَ ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْحَرَامِ إِلَى ٱلْمَسْجِدِ ٱلْأَقْصَا ٱلَّذِى بَـٰرَكْنَا حَوْلَهُۥ لِنُرِيَهُۥ مِنْ ءَايَـٰتِنَآ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْبَصِيرُ
“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” 
In a hadīth, the Holy Prophet ﷺ said,
فَقَالَ ” عَلَيْكَ بِالشَّامِ فَإِنَّهَا خِيَرَةُ اللَّهِ مِنْ أَرْضِهِ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهَا خِيَرَتَهُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ فَأَمَّا إِنْ أَبَيْتُمْ فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِيَمَنِكُمْ وَاسْقُوا مِنْ غُدُرِكُمْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَكَّلَ لِي بِالشَّامِ وَأَهْلِهِ”
“You should go to al-Shām , for it is Allah’s chosen land, to which He will gather His chosen slaves. But if you refuse, then go to Yemen and draw water from your ponds, for Allah has promised me that He will take care of al-Shām and its people.” 
Uniting the Muslims
The mind of a concerned Muslim should be preoccupied with thoughts on how to achieve the unification of the Muslim community and how to once again liberate Palestine, allowing its children to relish the joys of life without the constant fear of Zionist attacks.
Our primary concern should be directed towards the restoration of Palestine and the recognition of the sacrifices made by those Muslims who have given so much to protect the radiance mentioned in the hadīth.
Our collective focus should be on the improvement of the Palestinian people’s circumstances and the well-being of Muslims in general.
In this context, the following three observations which I allowed my pen to write may serve as a guideline for personal betterment, a deeper understanding, and the aspiration for freedom for the Palestinians. It’s a dream that carries the promise of glory for the Muslim world that surrounds that sacred place.
Realistic expectations of Muslim leaders
To begin with, we shouldn’t expect any positive changes from many of our Muslim rulers and leaders.
They have knowingly and willingly disregarded the Palestinian cause, believing they’ve secured lasting power.
However, they are oblivious to the fact that death could be just around the corner, echoing the sentiment expressed by Abu al-Atāhiya  in his verse:
فيا ليتَ شِعري أَبَعدَ الشيب سِوى الموتِ من غائِبٍ يُنت
“Woe to my verses, is there anything beyond old age, except death lurking in the shadows?” 
One can readily conclude that these rulers seem devoid of humanity. They align with Zionist interests, exhibit Islamophobia, and indeed match the description given to us in the hadīth:
“Leaders who will come after me but will not adhere to my guidance and Sunnah. Some among them will have hearts that resemble those of devils in human bodies.” 
From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free
There is no doubt that Palestine will eventually achieve freedom from the river to the sea, and our faith in Allah demands this unwavering conviction. The world may witness or even contribute to great adversity in that blessed land and among its people, but victory is destined to come.
The lingering point is, when victory does arrive and Palestine shines brightly with its faith and radiant glow, its people mustn’t forget their previous adversaries during the darker times.
They must remember how they were relentlessly bombarded, and their innocent children mercilessly murdered. It was Saudi Arabia that offered support to Israel, the United Arab Emirates that aligned with them rather than with justice, Bahrain remained silent, and Egypt kept the Rafah Crossing closed to suffocate them. These actions came from rulers who can be considered as collaborators with oppressive forces.
The Palestinian people must remember these rulers’ morally questionable decisions and must never extend an open arm to them, for these rulers have acted with a lack of conscience. Acknowledging the political situation and the conniving and malevolence of these Gulf states is the first step toward achieving genuine freedom and liberation for the people of Palestine.
It is both the duty of the Palestinian people and the broader Muslim community to remember these monarchs, hypocrites, and traders who turned their backs when Muslims were being killed, and Palestinian children were subjected to merciless violence. These rulers epitomised hypocrisy during that time, and the Palestinian people must not forget this.
“Scholars of the sultans”
The “scholars of the sultans”, who lent their religious authority to echo the rulers’ agenda, bear equal responsibility for the suffering of the Palestinian people. They are as equally culpable as the Zionists for the deaths of Palestinian children, as they have the blood of Muslims on their hands.
However, it’s important to recognise that throughout history, there have always been such groups and individuals whose conscience is overshadowed, not by a sense of humanity, but by their self-centred greed.
For instance, historical records show that the Mufti of Fez and religious leaders in Algeria were instrumental in undermining the Islamic call and resistance against the French, which resulted in limited success and needless deaths. 
Moreover, ministers of Islamic affairs in certain Muslim countries misused funds from the public treasury to support endeavours such as the Catholic Moroccan Journal with a clear anti-Islamic agenda. Paradoxically, it was some Muslim scholars and intellectuals who inadvertently contributed to the decline of the Muslim community.
I prefer not to mention the names of those scholars and their tainted reputations. However, it is widely known that certain scholars, both in the Emirates and other places, played pivotal roles in normalising relations with the Zionist state. In fact, one of them was even honoured with an award by the Zionists.
These people betrayed the cause of Islam and the Muslim community, marking one of the most treacherous acts in the history of Islam. They represent the worst kind of individuals a ruler can be swayed by.
Initially, one might excuse their actions as stemming from a lack of knowledge or misunderstanding. But, despite studying and being scholars of religion for decades, they persist in betraying the Muslims and the teachings of Allah and His Messenger. Strikingly, in their old age, their betrayal seems to burn even more fervently than when they were young. Their betrayal is even worse than that of Abu Righāl. 
A lack of Muslim interest in reading
Secondly, I believe this is a crucial aspect of our discussion: the lack of interest among Muslims in the tradition of reading and learning is alarmingly significant, to the point of being almost non-existent.
The issue of Palestine is undeniably important, and its significance should serve as a driving force compelling us to engage in the reading of the literature on Palestine — its history, culture, social politics, and everything that encompasses the Palestinian experience. Without access to this knowledge and understanding, our efforts to reclaim Palestine from the hands of the Zionists and establish an Islamic society will remain nearly impossible.
Salāh al-Dīn al-Ayyūbī’s plan to retake Jerusalem
Reflecting on history, when the Crusaders took control of Palestine and the dream of its recovery seemed all but lost, Allah sent the great Muslim general, Salāh al-Dīn al-Ayyūbī.
He outlined a threefold programme to recapture Jerusalem:
- Firstly, the unification of the Muslim nation and tribes
- Secondly, the establishment of Islamic schools
- And thirdly, and most importantly in the context of our discussion, the authoring and reading of the virtues of Palestine. 
While the first two aspects can be left to those responsible for the time, the third one holds the key to regaining the Palestinian narrative.
Creating a movement and culture of reading and rediscovering our literary heritage will enable us to comprehend our past, our present, and our future.
Without engaging in the act of reading about Palestine, its history, its virtues, the people who lived there, and the wisdom of the scholars who emerged from that land, we will forever remain at a disadvantage. Our enemy will always hold the upper hand, dictating our narrative to the world, and portraying us as a people without a land.
In this context, an African proverb comes to mind,
“Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.” 
If we do not have our historians and do not reclaim our narrative, the stories will always be told from the perspective of the oppressors, glorifying their actions.
Our claim to love and care for the Palestinian people must not remain empty rhetoric.
To truly serve them, we need to be aware of their history, the ongoing conflict, and the resistance against the terror inflicted by Zionist elements. It is both our moral and religious duty to maintain a strong connection with Palestine and its people.
While monetary and material donations are important, we must also engage with their history and immerse ourselves in it. This includes reading about their struggles, as our children may otherwise forget and become desensitised to the oppression by the Israeli government. We should make a concerted effort to keep our minds refreshed daily and ensure our bookshelves are filled with Palestinian literature. 
There has been a physical Nakba and there are ongoing efforts for what I call Palestinian literature-Nakba.
As conscious Muslims, we should stand firm in our commitment to fill our shelves with this literature and educate our children about the blessed land.
The renowned Irish poet Seamus Heaney once expressed in his poetry,
“Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.” 
This reminds us that we need to begin delving into our past, exploring our literature, and connecting with the blessed land of Shām that our Prophet ﷺ spoke highly of.
It is essential so that one day when we stand before Allah, we have something meaningful to say.
Laziness and procrastination
My third point is that procrastination and laziness are the habits of hypocrites (munāfiqūn), as mentioned in the Qur’ān,
“When they stand for salah (prayer), they stand with laziness.” 
The great ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab once prayed,
“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from a lazy Muslim and an active disbeliever (kafir).” 
The profoundness of this statement highlights the damage that a lazy Muslim can cause to themselves, their immediate family, and the broader Muslim community.
In our time, we must actively guard against laziness, as it is a quality that poses a significant threat. There are numerous traditions and hadīth where even the Prophet ﷺ sought refuge in Allah from becoming lazy.
The Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said,
“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts, and from being overpowered by men.” 
In contrast, the active Muslim embodies the very essence of the Prophet’s call to Islam.
It is reported that when the Prophet ﷺ walked, he did so with purpose and at a brisk pace. Some of his companions mentioned that it was challenging to keep up with him because he was a man on a mission.
“Walk like an Egyptian” by Liam Sternberg
In stark contrast to our current mindset, we often act as if we have complete control over time, as though we hold it in our hands.
The inspiration for Liam Sternberg to write his famous song, Walk Like an Egyptian, was based on an observation he made when he saw Egyptians walking in a seemingly unbalanced and purposeless manner, as if lacking ambition or clear objectives in their stride. 
It’s important to note that this portrayal does not apply to most Egyptians, as many are active and have clear goals. However, it serves as a metaphor for the broader Muslim society, as Egypt is often referred to as “Umm al-Dunya” (the Mother of the World).
The future of Palestinians and Muslims, in general, does not solely hinge on having a prominent presence on the global stage, although that is important. Instead, it lies in Muslims actively engaging in the cause of Palestinians and others across the world who are suffering. Our actions reflect our dedication and demonstrate our commitment to Allah and His Messenger ﷺ.
Trusting in Allah but choosing not to tie one’s camel
Many times, I’ve encountered Muslims who are devout in their religious beliefs and show great reverence for sacred texts and traditions.
However, when it comes to taking concrete actions, their commitment falters, and they often cite fate as the reason for their inaction. They may even question the religious sanctity of demonstrating for the sake of Palestine.
Their reluctance doesn’t stop at merely not taking action; they go further to blame those who ardently defend Palestine against Zionist oppression, often providing religious justifications for their passivity.
As Muslims, we must be active in every way possible and not settle for a few seconds of YouTube clips or the shallow concerns of popularity and views. Some so-called scholars and self-proclaimed leaders may engage in entertaining distractions to avoid meaningful activism. They might focus on being well-groomed or on appearances, but all this serves as a distraction from genuine activism.
We must avoid such diversions and actively participate whenever there is a call to support the people of Palestine or any other cause. This is the least we can do, and being active is an integral part of our Islamic faith and our religious duty. We are not a people who succumb to laziness.
My intention here was to identify several factors that can help us regain control of our narrative, hold our heads high, and honour the Palestinian people and their cause.
During this discussion, I may have sounded frustrated, but this frustration stems from my inner self and pertains to my identity and sense of belonging. I grew up in a society that is not my own, both culturally and politically. It’s challenging to put into words, but the purpose of this paper is to navigate through these complexities and highlight three key factors that can assist us.
While there are undoubtedly other factors and different observers may bring forth their own perspectives, what’s crucial and universally agreed upon is that our concern for the Palestinian cause transcends politics, language, culture, and socio-economic circumstances.
It touches upon the core issue. For Muslims, it is a religious conflict, a struggle between good and evil, a battle for justice against oppression. As Muslims, we are obliged to stand for justice, as it is a fundamental principle of our religious teachings.
- Recognising that Muslim leaders may not always act in the best interests of Muslims is crucial for us to move forward.
- Empower yourself by delving into the history of Palestine, and encourage family members to do the same.
- Be proactive through legal avenues including advocacy, support, and other steps aligned with our principles and values.
 Ibn Khallikan. (1996). Wafayāt al-Aʿyān wa-Anbāʾ Abnāʾ az-Zamān (Vol. 1, p. 173). Kitab Bhavan. Translated by M. de Slane. Edited by Dr. S. Moinul Haq. [Printed in India].
 Nadīm (al-), Abū al-Faraj Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq Abū Ya’qūb al-Warrāq. 1970. The Fihrist of al-Nadim; a tenth-century survey of Muslim culture. Edited by Bayard Dodge. New York & London: Columbia University Press. pp. 189, 373, 1066.
 Al Jazeera. 2023.”Saudi Crown Prince MBS says Israel normalization getting ‘closer” Al Jazeera, August 8. Accessed [12/10/2023].[https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/9/20/saudi-crown-prince-mbs-says-israel-normalisation-getting-closer].
 Middle East Monitor. 2023. “Netanyahu: Normalisation with Saudi not linked to creation of Palestinian state.” Middle East Monitor, August 8. Accessed [12/10/2023]. [https://middleeastmonitor.com/20230808-netanyahu-normalisation-with-saudi-not-linked-to-creation-of-palestinian-state/].
 Wion. 2023. “Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman says ‘Saudi stands by Palestinians. Wion, Octor.11. Accessed [11/10/2023]. [https://www.wionews.com/world/crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-says-saudi-stands-by-palestinians-644756].
 al-Qur’ān, 17:1
 Bilād al-Shām comprised the area of Greater Syria, spanning the modern countries of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, as well as the regions of Hatay, Gaziantep, and Diyarbakir in modern Turkey. See: Bosworth, C. E. (1997). “al-Shām”. In Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W. P. & Lecomte, G. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam. Volume IX: San–Sze (2nd ed.). Leiden: E. J. Brill, p. 261. ISBN 978-90-04-10422-8.
 Sunan Abu Dawud, 2,483
 Ibn Khallikan. (1996). Wafayāt al-Aʿyān wa-Anbāʾ Abnāʾ az-Zamān (Vol. 1, p. 301). Kitab Bhavan. Translated by M. de Slane. Edited by Dr. S. Moinul Haq. [Printed in India].
 ديوان أبو العتاهية
 Sahīh Muslim, 1,847
 Arslan, A. S. (2004). Our Decline, its Causes and Remedies. Islamic Book Trust. Kuala Lumpur.
 Abu Righāl served as the Arab guide for Abraha’s army. Consequently, the Abyssinians were unaware of the Kaaba’s location. Whenever they sought assistance from an Arab guide to lead them to the Kaaba, all offers of reward were declined by others, except for Abu Raghal, who accepted the task. His recompense for this treacherous act was that, henceforth, anyone who betrayed the Arabs in a similar manner was referred to as ‘Abu Raghal. Eshan Yar-Shater et al, 1987. Tarikh Tabar [English Translation], Vol. 5, p. 223.
 Lateef, Osman. (2014). “The Life of Salahudheen Ayyubi.” [Accessed September 10, 2023. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nxMakeySK8.]
 Achebe, Chinua “The Art of Fiction” 1994.
 Heaney, S. (2006). Death of a Naturalist. Faber & Faber.
 al-Qur’ān, 4:142
 Statement: [O Allah, I seek refuge in You from a lazy Muslim and an active disbeliever (Kafir).]. (n.d.).
 Hisn al-Muslim, 121; https://sunnah.com/hisn:121
 Sternberg, L. (1986). “Walk Like an Egyptian.” [Recorded by The Bangles]. On Different Light. Columbia Records.
Some recommended books for further reading:
- “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Ilan Pappé
- “Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on the US-Israeli War Against the Palestinians” by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé
- “The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017” by Rashid Khalidi
- “Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History” by Nur Masalha
- “Erasing Palestine: Free Speech and Palestinian Freedom” by Rebecca Gould
- “Islam And The Problem Of Israel” by Isma’il Raji al-Faruqi
- “Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom” by Norman Finkelstein
- “Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict” by Norman Finkelstein
- “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History” by Norman Finkelstein