Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Say (unto them): If the abode of the Hereafter) i.e. Paradise (in the providence of Allah is indeed for you alone) specifically for you alone (and not for others of mankind) and not for the believers in Muhammad and his Companions ((as you pretend), then long for death (for ye must long for death)) ask for death (if ye are truthful) in your claim.
Say, to them: ‘If the Abode of the Hereafter, that is, Paradise, with God is purely yours, that is, exclusively, and not for other people, as you allege, then long for death — if you speak truly’ (here both conditionals are connected to the verb tamannū, ‘long for’, so that the first is dependent upon the second, in other words, ‘If you speak truly when you claim that it is yours, then you will naturally incline to what is yours, and since the path to it is death, long for it [death]’).
(Say to (them): "If the home of the Hereafter with Allah is indeed for you especially and not for others, of mankind, then long for death if you are truthful.'') meaning, `Invoke Allah to bring death to the lying camp among the two (Muslims and Jews).' The Jews declined this offer by the Messenger of Allah.''
(But they will never long for it because of what their hands have sent before them (i.e. what they have done). And Allah is Aware of the Zalimin (polytheists and wrongdoers).) meaning, "Since they know that they recognize you, and yet disbelieve in you.'' Had they wished death that day, no Jew would have remained alive on the face of the earth. Moreover, Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas said that,
(Then long for death), means, "Invoke (Allah) for death.'' Also, `Abdur-Razzaq narrated that `Ikrimah said that Ibn `Abbas commented,
(Then long for death if you are truthful), "Had the Jews invoked Allah for death, they would have perished.'' Also, Ibn Abi Hatim recorded Sa`id bin Jubayr saying that Ibn `Abbas said, "Had the Jews asked for death, one of them would have choked on his own saliva.'' These statements have authentic chains of narration up to Ibn `Abbas. Further, Ibn Jarir said in his Tafsir, "We were told that the Prophet said,
(Had the Jews wished for death, they would have died and seen their seats in the Fire. And, those who invoked such curse against Allah's Messenger would have found no families or property had they returned to their homes).''
Similar to this Ayah is Allah's statement in Surat Al-Jumu`ah,
((Say (O Muhammad ): "O you Jews! If you pretend that you are friends of Allah, to the exclusion of (all) other mankind, then long for death if you are truthful. ''But they will never long for it (death), because of what (deeds) their hands have sent before them! And Allah knows well the Zalimin. Say (to them): "Verily, the death from which you flee will surely meet you, then you will be sent back to (Allah) the Knower of the unseen and the seen, and He will tell you what you used to do.'') (62:6-8).
So they claimed that they are Allah's sons and loved ones and said, "Only those who are Christian or Jews shall enter Paradise.'' Therefore, they were called to invoke Allah to destroy the lying group, be it them or the Muslims. When the Jews declined, every one was sure of their wrong, for had they been sure of their claims, then they would have accepted the proposal. Their lies were thus exposed after they declined the offer to invoke the curse.
Similarly, the Messenger of Allah called a delegation of Najran's Christians to curse after he refuted them in a debate in which they demonstrated stubbornness and defiance. Allah said,
(Then whoever disputes with you concerning him (`Isa) after (all this) knowledge that has come to you (i.e. `Isa) being a servant of Allah, and having no share in divinity), say (O Muhammad ): "Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves ـ then we pray and invoke (sincerely) the curse of Allah upon those who lie.'') (3:61).
When the Christians heard this challenge, some of them said to each other, "By Allah! If you do such with this Prophet, none of you will have an eye that blinks.'' This is when they resorted to peace and gave the Jizyah (tax) in disgrace. The Prophet accepted the Jizyah from them and sent Abu `Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah with them as a trustee. Similar to this meaning is Allah's command to His Prophet to proclaim to the polytheists:
(Say (O Muhammad ) whoever is in error, the Most Gracious (Allah) will prolong him (in it).) (19:75) meaning, "Whoever among us has deviated, may Allah increase and prolong his deviation.'' We will mention this subject later, Allah willing.
The Mubahalah (invocation to Allah to destroy the liars) was called a `wish' here, because every just person wishes that Allah destroy the unjust opponent who is debating with him, especially when the just person has a clear, apparent proof for the truth he is calling to. Also, the Mubahalah involves invoking Allah for death of the unjust group, because to disbelievers, life is the biggest prize, especially when they know the evil destination they will meet after death.
(But they will never long for it because of what their hands have sent before them (i.e.what they have done). And Allah is Aware of the Zalimin. And verily, you will find them (the Jews) the greediest of mankind for life.) meaning, greedy to live longer, because they know their evil end, and the only reward they will have with Allah is total loss. This life is a prison for the believer and Paradise for the disbeliever. Therefore, the People of the Book wish they could delay the Hereafter, as much as possible. However, they shall certainly meet what they are trying to avoid, even if they are more eager to delay the Hereafter than the polytheists who do not have a divine book.
Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated that Ibn `Abbas commented on,
(But the grant of such life will not save him even a little from (due) punishment.) "Long life shall not save them from torment. Certainly, the polytheists do not believe in resurrection after death, and they would love to enjoy a long life. The Jews know the humiliation they will suffer in the Hereafter for knowingly ignoring the truth.'' Also, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, "The Jews are most eager for this life. They wish they could live for a thousand years. However, living for a thousand years will not save them from torment, just as Iblis' - Satan - long life did not benefit him, due to being a disbeliever.'' t
وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ
(And Allah is Seer of what they do.) meaning, "Allah knows what His servants are doing, whether good or evil, and will compensate each of them accordingly.''
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This was a retort which implied that if they really were sure and enamoured of the Hereafter, they would not dread death, but would prefer it to the life in this world. They, however, were (and are) so much given to this worldliness that they were terrified by the very thought of death and the Hereafter.
The literal translation of the word ala hayat-in"is "any kind of life". It means that they wished to live without giving any consideration to the kind of life they led. It did not matter whether that was a life of honour and grace, or a life of dishonour and disgrace.
Say: “If the abode of the hereafter with God is purely yours and not for other people then long for death-if you speak truly.” But they will never long for it because of that which their own hands have sent before them. God knows the evildoers. Among the signs of ardent longing ishtiyāq is the desire for death while in the best of health and well-being. Whoever is absolutely and without any doubt confident that the garden is his ardently longs for it. But they did not long for the garden-and God سبحانه said that they will never long for it-and this information was a miracle for the Messenger ﷺ since it was as He had said. In this is good news for the believers who ardently long for death; there is forgiveness for them. He only bestows the ardent longing on them so that it may be actualized [when] they reach the garden. Of old it was said “For the negligent shame will suffice on the Day of the Meeting.” God most high said “But they will never long for it because of that which their own hands have sent before them.”