Can We Encompass A Single One of God’s Blessings?

In the verses 14:34 and 16:18 it states that if we count God’s blessings we will not be able to encompass them. While the translations for these expressions appear almost identical, there is a subtle difference that is worth reflecting upon.

Here is the word by word breakdown of the expression in 14:34:

[14:34] And He gives you all kinds of things that you implore Him for. If you count GOD’s blessings, you can never encompass them. Indeed, the human being is transgressing, unappreciative.

وَآتَاكُمْ مِنْ كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ وَإِنْ تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ

Notice that this verse uses the plural form of the word “blessing” which is “نِعْمَتَ”. Additionally, it uses the Arabic word تُحْصُوهَا which comes from the root ” ح ص ي ” which has to do with counting.

Now let’s contrast this with the expression in 16:18.

[16:18] If you count GOD’s blessings, you cannot possibly encompass them. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

وَإِنْ تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ

And here is the word by word breakdown of the verse.

If we notice this time it uses the singular form of the term blessing “نِعْمَةَ”.

My understanding of this is that even if we attempt to encompass just a single one of God’s blessings we will never be able to fully appreciate it. To put this in perspective let’s read the following verses which constitute the prayer of Abraham to God.

[14:35] Recall that Abraham said, “My Lord, make this a peaceful land, and protect me and my children from worshiping idols. [14:36] “My Lord, they have misled so many people. As for those who follow me, they belong with me. As for those who disobey me, You are Forgiver, Most Merciful. [14:37] “Our Lord, I have settled part of my family in this plantless valley, at Your Sacred House. Our Lord, they are to observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), so let throngs of people converge upon them, and provide for them all kinds of fruits, that they may be appreciative. [14:38] “Our Lord, You know whatever we conceal and whatever we declare— nothing is hidden from GOD on earth, nor in the heavens. [14:39] “Praise be to GOD for granting me, despite my old age, Ismail and Isaac. My Lord answers the prayers. [14:40] “My Lord, make me one who consistently observes the Contact Prayers (Salat), and also my children. Our Lord, please answer my prayers. [14:41] “My Lord, forgive me and my parents, and the believers, on the day when the reckoning takes place.”

Now take in consideration that from this one person, Abraham, the impact he has had from his one single prayer for so many countless believers. Because God answered his one prayer, He has blessed generations of humans with the Salat, Hajj, and even the Quran, and Submission as a whole.

[2:127] As Abraham raised the foundations of the shrine, together with Ismail (they prayed): “Our Lord, accept this from us. You are the Hearer, the Omniscient. [2:128] “Our Lord, make us submitters to You, and from our descendants let there be a community of submitters to You. Teach us the rites of our religion, and redeem us. You are the Redeemer, Most Merciful. [2:129] “Our Lord, and raise among them a messenger to recite to them Your revelations, teach them the scripture and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Almighty, Most Wise.”

The name Jesus

“Jesus” is the English derivative of the Greek transliteration of “Yehoshua” via Latin. In the New Testament, all instances of the word “Yehoshua” are written as “Ἰησοῦς” (Iēsoūs), which is the closest Greek transliteration of the Aramaic: ישוע; Yeshua‎.

Because of the lack of a “sh” sound in Greek when the Bible was translated from Greek to Latin it retained the name as Iēsus and eventually changed into Jesus when translated to English from Greek.

But there is more than one Yeshua in the Bible. Yeshua was also one of the leaders of the Children of Israel at the time of Moses, which we know as Joshua. The reason Yeshua was transliterated closer to the original name as opposed to Jesus was because Yeshua was translated straight from Hebrew to English without the Greek translation as an intermediary.

So Jesus is the English form of Latin Iēsus which is the Hebrew name Yēšua (ישוע), which is in turn is the shortened form of Hebrew Yehōšua (יהושע) or “Joshua” in English.

What is the meaning of Yehoshua?

Yehoshua comes from two words Yahweh which means “God” + Shua from the root יָשַׁע (yasha’) which means salvation. Therefore, the literal translation of Yehoshua would be “God saves” or “God is salvation.”

What is interesting is that according to Numbers 13:8 we see that the original name of Yehoshua, or Joshua in English, was Hoshea, but in Numbers 13:16, Moses changed his name to Yehoshua/Joshua.

Numbers 13

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.” 3 So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites. 4 These are their names…

Numbers 13:8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;

Numbers 13:16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.)

There is some debate to why Moses called Hoshea Joshua, but if we look at the meaning of Hoshea it might shed some light.

Hoshea comes from the same root as Joshua יָשַׁע (yasha’) which means salvation, but unlike Joshua which means God is salvation, Hoshea would simply mean Salvation. As salvation only comes from God it makes sense that Moses could have decided to call him Joshua as in “God is salvation” which he is called throughout the rest of the Bible.

What does this have to do with Jesus?

Christians believe that Jesus is God, and this is contrary to the very name God gave him as his name is a testament that salvation only comes from God, otherwise it would make more sense that his name would have been Hoshea which would simply mean salvation.

[4:172] The Messiah would never disdain from being a servant of GOD, nor would the closest angels. Those who disdain from worshiping Him, and are too arrogant to submit, He will summon them all before Him.

Also, it is quite funny that Christians put so much importance on Jesus, and specifically his name, yet we don’t even know 100% for sure what he was called by the people at the time as we do not have the original Gospels in Aramaic.

[3:45] The angels said, “O Mary, GOD gives you good news: a Word from Him whose name is `The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary. He will be prominent in this life and in the Hereafter, and one of those closest to Me.’

What else is interesting is that it is not clear why the Quran uses the term Isa for Jesus. God willing hoping to dig into explore this in the future.

Man: The Best Design & Circumcision

How do we reconcile circumcision with God informing us that He created man in the best design?

To understand this question we need to understand that the form of a human being has been around long before Adam; for hundreds of thousands of years. What set Adam apart was not just his form, but specifically his soul. That is why the human form is not entirely distinct from all other animals, but instead falls into the category of mammals, and even more specifically primates.

One of the commonalities of all mammals is that they are endowed with foreskin. The main purpose of the foreskin is twofold (1) as a protective layer against the environment (2) to expedite time to ejaculation for increased probability of conception. While both these cases are highly advantageous for all other mammals and their survival, this is not the case for modern humans.

1. Humans wear clothes animals do not

No surprise, but animals do not wear clothes, therefore it makes sense that their vulnerable parts have an additional layer of protection rather than being out in the open. But human beings do wear clothes for protection and additionally, unlike animals humans feel shame in nudity, which again originated with Adam & Eve’s soul being assigned to human bodies.

[20:121] They ate from it, whereupon their bodies became visible to them, and they tried to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise. Adam thus disobeyed his Lord, and fell.

[7:26] O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. These are some of GOD’s signs, that they may take heed.

Since animals do not wear clothes, their genitals have more exposure to air, reducing bacterial growth under the foreskin. This is not the case for humans. Humans wear clothes and do not require the extra protection that the foreskin serves, and due to the fact that humans wear clothes, this actually has a negative impact for uncircumcised men in regards to hygiene. Also, humans sweat more than any other mammal, while this is great for disseminating of heat, it does not function well for the genitals covered in clothes with excessive foreskin. It is a proven fact that infants, teenagers, and men that uncircumcised are at much higher risk of Urinary Tract Infections and sexually transmitted diseases both for themselves and even for their partners, compared to ones who are circumcised.

Additionally, it is interesting that God encourages cleanliness throughout the Quran, but specifically in the context of sexual relations:

[2:222] They ask you about menstruation: say, “It is harmful; you shall avoid sexual intercourse with the women during menstruation; do not approach them until they are rid of it. Once they are rid of it, you may have intercourse with them in the manner designed by GOD. GOD loves the repenters, and He loves those who are clean.”

2. Humans have sex for pleasure more than they do for procreation, animals do not

Most animals have sex strictly for the sake of procreation, therefore an animal that can ejaculate faster than its peers has a better chance to pass their genes for future generations. This is not the case for humans.

Humans are one of the only mammals who have sex for pleasure. A simple example of this is that on average a couple will have sex 1,000 times before a birth of a child, while other primates, like gorillas, have sex only about twelve times before a birth. Also, humans’ duration of copulation is one of the longest for any mammals. Actually, human sexuality can be argued serves primarily as a bonding device between monogamous couples and secondly for procreation. Again this goes counter to the function of the foreskin. Foreskin speeds up ejaculation because in the animal kingdom the purpose of sex is for procreation, so the faster that one can complete the task the more likely they are to pass their genes to the next generation.

It is a fact that men who are circumcised have a much longer “Intravaginal ejaculation latency time” (IELT). This means that they can perform intercourse for longer. The advantage of this is (1) they can enjoy this blessing for a longer duration of time (2) their partners, who physiologically take longer to climax, will also be able to enjoy intercourse for longer (3) therefore the probability of their partner reaching climax during intercourse is higher. While these points may be obvious, the fourth reason is very profound (4) the amount of oxytocin release is higher during prolonged intercourse and especially after climax. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone. It is a major factor in what keeps couples monogamous and even more awesome is that it is linked to couples’ drive to stick together through relationship hard patches.

Now consider this, you are a about to have a son and as a parent you have the opportunity to bestow a gift for them that will leave them with better hygiene, less prone to infection, a better sex life with their spouse when they get married, and also the ability to have a stronger bond with their spouse to increase their chances of staying together through relationship difficulties – would you want to provide such a blessing for them?