The complete name of Isa("Jesus") is “AL-MASEEH Isa son of Maryam”:
Aal-e-Imran 3/45: When the angels said, 'O Maryam! Allah gives you glad tidings of a word from Him; his name shall be AL-MASEEH ISA IBNE MARYAM honoured in this world and in the next, and of those nearest to Allah
إِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ
Now, the meaning of Al-Maseeh is commonly understood as Christ / Anointed / Baptised.
But, there already is a word for “anointment” in The Quran, which is 'sibghata':
Al-Baqarah 2/138: The Sibghata / Anointment / Baptism of God: And who is better than God’s sibghatan / anointment / baptism? And for Him we are serving.
صِبْغَةَ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ صِبْغَةً وَنَحْنُ لَهُ عَابِدُونَ
Secondly, even if it were to carry the meaning of Anointed, the name would have been ‘Mamsooh’, meaning ‘the one upon whom Masah is performed’.
But Maseeh means ‘the one who performs Masah’.
So what does Masah mean then? Let’s look at verse 5/6 which commands Believers to perform masah i.e rubbing / massaging / wiping, using water or sand/dust:
Al-Maida 5/6: O ye who believe! when you stand up for Prayer, wash your faces, and your hands up to the elbows, and Perform MASAH ( RUBBING / MASSAGING / WIPING ) of your heads (with water); and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you be unclean, purify yourselves by bathing. And if you are ill or you are on a journey while unclean, or one of you comes from the privy or you have touched women, and find not WATER, betake yourselves to pure DUST and perform MASAHAH ( RUB / MASSAGE /WIPE ) therewith of your faces and your hands. God desires not that He should place you in a difficulty but He desires to purify you and to complete His favour upon you, so that you may be grateful.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ مَرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِنْكُمْ مِنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُمْ مِنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَٰكِنْ يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
But the meaning of masah is only “rubbing/massaging/wiping”. Using water or sand or anything else is not necessary. Look at 38/33, where MAS-HAN is used to mean simply massaging / rubbing; no water or sand involved, i.e NO ANOINTMENT / BAPTISM / CHRISTENING:
Saad 38/33: "Bring them(the horses) back to me." then he(Sulaiman) began to RUB / MAS-HAN (their) legs and their necks.
رُدُّوهَا عَلَيَّ فَطَفِقَ مَسْحًا بِالسُّوقِ وَالأَعْنَاقِ
This further proves that masah cannot mean “anointment/baptism/christening”. It only gives the meaning of Massaging / Rubbing / Wiping.
Al-Maseeh therefore means ‘The One who Massages / Rubs / Wipes’.
But what is the SIGNIFICANCE of Isa being Al-Maseeh? WHY is he called The One who Massages / Rubs / Wipes? What could he have performed Masah for?
We know from The Quran that Isa used to heal the blind and the leprous by Allah’s command:
Aal-e-Imran 3/49: And (Isa will be) a Messenger towards the Children of Israeel (saying), 'I come to you with a Sign from your Lord, which is, that I will fashion out for you a creation out of clay after the manner of a bird; then I will breath into it a new spirit and it will become a soaring being by the command of God; and I will HEAL THE BLIND AND THE LEPROUS, and I will quicken the dead by the command of God; and I will announce to you what you will eat and what you will store up in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you, if you are believers.
وَرَسُولًا إِلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنِّي قَدْ جِئْتُكُمْ بِآيَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ أَنِّي أَخْلُقُ لَكُمْ مِنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ فَأَنْفُخُ فِيهِ فَيَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَأُبْرِئُ الْأَكْمَهَ وَالْأَبْرَصَ وَأُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا تَأْكُلُونَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُونَ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ
So it is very likely that Isa used masah / rubbing / massaging to heal the blind and the leprous, hence Al-Maseeh (The one who gives masah / massage), and not the mistranslation “Christ/Anointed”.
Fahad Ali Khan
Fahad Ali Khan