“O you who believe! Be not like those who disbelieve (hypocrites) and who say to their brethren when they travel through the earth or go out to fight: ‘If they had stayed with us, they would not have died or been killed,’ so that Allaah may make it a cause of regret in their hearts. It is Allaah that gives life and causes death. And Allaah is All‑Seer of what you do”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:156 – interpretation of the meaning]
Ibn Katheer said:
“Allaah forbids His believing slaves to imitate the kuffaar in their corrupt belief
which is indicated by what they said concerning their brethren who died on journeys or in war, that if they had not traveled or gone to war, what befell them would not have befallen them.
Allaah says “O you who believe! Be not like those who disbelieve (hypocrites) and who say to their brethren”
i.e., of their brethren; “when they travel through the earth”
i.e., for the purpose of trading etc; “or go out to fight”
i.e., on military campaigns; “If they had stayed with us”
i.e., in our land; “they would not have died or been killed”
i.e., they would not have died on the road or been killed in battle.
The words, “so that Allaah may make it a cause of regret in their hearts”
mean, He has created this belief in their hearts to increase their sense of grief for their people who died or were slain.
Then Allaah says, refuting them: “It is Allaah that gives life and causes death”
meaning, creation is in His hand, and to Him all things return.
No one lives or dies except by His will and decree,
and there can be no increase or decrease in the life span of anyone except by His will and decree.”
[Tafseer Ibn Katheer (1/420)]
And he said:
“Just as caution does not change the will and decree of Allaah, so too fleeing from jihaad or avoiding it does not hasten or delay the appointed time of death.
Rather, life span is decided and provision is allocated. And it cannot be increased or decreased, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“(They are) the ones who said about their killed brethren while they themselves sat (at home): ‘If only they had listened to us, they would not have been killed.’ Say: ‘Avert death from your own selves, if you speak the truth’”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:168]
“They say: ‘Our Lord! Why have you ordained for us fighting? Would that you had granted us respite for a short period?’ Say: ‘Short is the enjoyment of this world. The Hereafter is (far) better for him who fears Allaah, and you shall not be dealt with unjustly even equal to the Fateela (a scalish thread in the long slit of a date stone).
Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high!’”
And we have narrated from the commander of the army, the leader of the troops, the guardian of Islaam, the sword of Allaah unsheathed against His enemies, Aboo Sulaymaan Khaalid ibn al-Waleed (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he said when he was about to die:
“I have seen such and such battles, and there is no part of my body that has not been struck by arrows, stabbed or hit, but here I am about to die in my bed like a camel. May the eyes of cowards know no sleep”
– meaning that he was sad that he had not been killed in war, and was grieved that he was going to die in his bed.”
[Tafseer Ibn Katheer (1/300)]