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Ye did indeed wish for death before ye met him: Now ye have seen him with your own eyes, (And ye flinch!)

In the Battle of Uhad the opinion of some of the Companions of
the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was that they should meet the enemy outside
Madînah in the open field: they said, “We had longed for this day, let
us go out to fight our enemies, lest they think we are cowards”. The
“desire for fighting the enemy and being slain in the cause of truth” is
called a “desire for death.” (Commentary and Reflections on the Quran, pg. 445)

Asad writes:

In Zamakhshari’s opinion, this is a twofold reproach addressed to the majority of the
Companions who took part in the battle of Uhud: firstly, on account of their insistence,
against the Prophet’s advice, on giving battle to the enemy in the open field and thereby
unnecessarily courting a deadly danger; and, secondly, on account of their failure to live
up to their faith during the earlier part of the battle (see note 90 above). This passage
may have yet another, more positive implication: namely, a reference to the lesson which
the believers should draw from their near-defeat, and a reminder of the fact that their
future depends on the strength of their faith in God (cf. verse 139 above) and not on a
fleeting desire for self-sacrifice.

References:

Asad, Muhammad (1980). The Message of the Quran. http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/55877864-54484011-Message-of-Quran-Muhammad-Asad-Islam-Translation.pdf

NOORUDDÎN ,ALLÂMAH. (2015). Exegesis of The Holy Qur’ân Commentary and Reflections. http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Exegesis-of-the-Holy-Quran-Commentary-and-Reflections.pdf

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