Undoubtedly, Muslims have to work hard, strive hard, and implement all means that will lead to their gaining power and leadership in the world. A Muslim must believe in the hadith 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 excellent 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 (i.e., 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).
He also says: (Make ready against them (i.e., enemy)all you can of power, including steeds of war, to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy} (Al-Anfal 8:60)
He also says: (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)
He also says: (And for this let (all) those strive who want to strive (i.e. hasten earnestly to the obedience of Allah)} (Al-Mutaffifin 83:26)
He also: (For the like of this, let the workers work} (As-Saffat 37:61)
Allah says: (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)
He also says: (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 of course 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, du’at (preachers), and writers.