Undoubtedly striving for Islam and supporting it on earth requires Muslims to work hard, strive hard, and implement all means that will lead to that. A Muslim must believe in the hadiths of the descent of Prophet `Isa (peace and blessings be upon him) and the emergence of the Mahdi. However, the belief in these prophecies should not stop a Muslim from striving to establish an “Islamic reality” wherever he or she is, nor should he or she wait for these prophecies instead of reaching out to help his or her fellow brethren wherever they are.
Elaborating on this issue, Sheikh Muhammad Isma`il Al-Muqaddam, a prominent da`iyah, states,
The situation in which the Muslim Ummah finds itself in today is not something Muslims are content about, and every Muslim is responsible for setting things straight. But some Muslims do not even try (relying on hope) and avoid doing anything to better the situation of the Ummah, on the grounds that it was caused by those who came before us and will be set right by those who come after us. So they fail to strive to support the religion of Allah, on the basis that the Mahdi is the one who will do that.
This is resorting to hope without implementing the means that are prescribed in Islam. Allah says, (It will not be in accordance with your desires (Muslims), nor those of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), whosoever does evil, will have the recompense thereof, and he will not find any protector or helper besides Allah} (An-Nisaa‘ 4:123).
This negativity, from which some Muslims are suffering nowadays, is not something that could be prescribed by the Islamic texts; rather, it is a malignant combination of misunderstanding, incapability, laziness, and evasion of responsibility.
Allah has commanded Muslims to strive for this religion and to call people to it, to debate with non-Muslims and invite them to Islam with wisdom and patient preaching, and to fight them until there is no longer any shirk on earth.
Allah says, (And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (Arabic for: disbelief and polytheism, i.e. worshipping other idols besides Allah), and until the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is the All-Seer of what they do} (Al-Anfal 8:39).
Some people misunderstand the hadiths that speak of the emergence of the Mahdi or the descent of the Messiah `Isa ibn Maryam (peace be upon him) and they become apathetic, and they sit waiting for the emergence of the Mahdi or the descent of the Messiah, and they stop calling people to Allah and stop striving to make the word of Allah supreme. But Allah, may He be exalted, and His Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) have commanded us to implement the means and strive on this earth.
Allah says, (O you who believe, take your precautions, and either go forth in parties, or go forth all together} (Al-Nisaa‘ 4:71).
(Make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war, to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy} (Al-Anfal 8:60)
(He it is Who has made the earth subservient to you (i.e. easy for you to walk, to live and to practice agriculture on). So walk in the path thereof and eat of His provision. And to Him will be the Resurrection} (Al-Mulk 67:15)
(And for this let (all) those strive who want to strive (i.e. hasten earnestly to the obedience of Allah)} (Al-Mutaffifin 83:26)
(For the like of this, let the workers work} (As-Saffat 37:61)
(And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it (i.e. does righteous deeds of Allah’s obedience) while he is a believer [in the Oneness of Allah] — then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated [thanked and rewarded by Allah]} (Al-Israa‘ 17:19)
(And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At–Taqwa [Arabic for: piety, righteousness]} (Al-Baqarah 2:197)
Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to make preparations for everything, including drawing up a plan, as what happened during the Hijrah. In the Hijrah from Makkah to Madinah, the Prophet prepared mounts and a guide, chose a traveling-companion (Abu Bakr), decided on a place to hide until the pursuit cools down, and shrouded all of that in secrecy.
This is how he acted in all his campaigns, and this is how he trained his noble Companions. They used to prepare themselves with all they might need. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) entered Makkah with his helmet on his head although Allah has said, ( Allah will protect you from people (who mean mischief)} (Al-Ma’idah 5:67).
And whenever he traveled for jihad or Hajj or `Umrah, he took his provisions with him.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Strive for that which will benefit you, and seek the help of Allah, and do not be helpless” (Muslim).
It would be difficult to imagine what the fate of the da`wah (Arabic for: calling people to Islam) and the Ummah would have been if the previous generations had heeded the calls to give up until the Mahdi emerges. Would they have defeated the Tatars and the Crusaders? Would they have conquered Constantinople?
This misunderstanding of the Islamic texts that speak about the Mahdi and the Messiah (peace be upon him) has been refuted by many scholars, da`iyahs, and writers.
The late scholar of Hadith, Sheikh Al-Albani (may Allah have mercy upon his soul) said, “It is not permissible for Muslims to ignore striving for Islam and the establishment of an Islamic state on earth, waiting for the emergence of the Mahdi and the descent of `Isa (peace be upon them), out of despair or imagining that establishing an Islamic state is not possible before they come. This is a false notion and false despair. Neither Allah nor His Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that Islam will not return or regain power on earth except at the time of the Messiah. It is possible to achieve that before they come if the Muslims implement the means of doing that, because Allah says: (O you who believe, if you help (in the cause of) Allah, He will help you and make your foothold firm} (Muhammad 47:7). Allah also says, (Verily, Allah will help those who help His (Cause)} (Al-Hajj 22:40).
With regard to the hadiths that speak of the descent of `Isa (peace be upon him), it is obligatory to believe in them and to refute those who think that they mean we should not strive and to understand that it is important to prepare to do whatever must be done at any time and in any place.”
Professor `Abd Al-`Aziz Mustafa said, “Some Muslims nowadays say, ‘Jihad against the Jews should not happen until the Dajjal appears. Perhaps this is part of the fitnah of the Dajjal in this world. ‘This foolish notion has taken hold of some Muslim youth, and they have refused to take any responsibility with regard to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa, the environs of which Allah has blessed.”
Mustafa continues, “An even more foolish notion has taken hold of them, which is that the Islamic state and the caliphate can never be established until the Mahdi emerges.”
“It is a very strange idea. By their actions, it is as if they are saying to Jews, ‘Treat your enemies harshly;’ and as if they are saying to Christians, ‘Continue with your wrongdoing;’ and to the Muslims, ‘Continue with your division and conflicts,” until the Mahdi emerges. I do not know on what evidence have they based their logic and fell into this error and why they imagine that the Mahdi will emerge to people who are doing nothing or that apathetic people will support him.”