Al-Qurʾān refers to ʿĪsā as المسيح.

For example, in Sūratu Āli ʿImrān:45:

إِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَم وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ

  1. What is the meaning of the word مسيح or the verb مسح?
  2. With (1) in mind, why is ʿĪsā called المسيح?

(A good answer will describe the reasons why ʿĪsā is called المسيح based on the meaning of the word مسيح/ مسح. The reasons must not be based on conjecture but scripture, preferably from the Qurʾān, but not limited to it.)

  • Yes, the same reason you believe i.e. to save the world from the anti Christ. I think that is what he's anointed for. Read more Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 20:43
  • The verb مسح means to wipe something. Prophet Isa (PBUH) would heal who was born blind and the leper by wiping on them
    – Atata
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 13:17

4 Answers 4


Many of the verses which mention Jesus as Messiah are addressed to Christians and Jews :

...and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah's Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth! (9:30)

Hence it is clear that the significance of Messiah in the Quran is the same Messiah which Bani Israel awaited for. Allah condemns both Jews for completely rejecting the Messiah as an impostor as well as most of the Christians sects who exaggerated by deifying Jesus the Messiah as God. The past scriptures revealed to Bani Israel which Quran also refers, do not mention that the Messiah would be God incarnate but just like the messengers before him who were human beings:

The Messiah, son of Marium is but a messenger; messengers before him have indeed passed away; and his mother was a truthful woman; they both used to eat food. See how We make the communications clear to them, then behold, how they are turned away.(5:75)

Hence to conclude the significance and understanding of Messiah is same as the understanding of the people to which it was addressed to i.e Bani-Israeli understanding. i.e (like many of the messengers which passed away before him) and the Messiah needs to be believed in the same way a nation should believe his Prophet as the guiding way to Allah. More specifically the Messiah was specially sent to the Jews who were the lost sheep(deviated) of Bani Israel.

More ever the Bani Israel scriptures would mean the Old Testament scriptures and not the Rambam era scriptures like Misneh Torah and many of his writings because all those interpretations of Messiah were written after the appearance of the Messiah and are written by people who rejected him, they were the ones who were called as Jews :a subgroup or tribe of the Bani Israel. In spite of this the Rambam does agree that the Messiah will be a Prophet, hence his significance is like the significance of any other Prophets.


As Averroes mentions in his answer, مسيح is a transliteration of the Hebrew word משיח which means "annointed." This word is used because the person who is supposed to bring salvation is to be a king of the line of David, and the kings are annointed with oil.

The Quran refers to Jesus as such because he is claimed to be that person who brings the salvation.

  • 1
    FYI, I didn't downvote you. I do understand that kings were anointed, and that המלך המשיח is understood to be a savior, but I guess what I'm getting at is, where do we find that Isa was ever anointed with oil? How does the Quran prove that Isa is indeed "the anointed one" (المسح or המשיח)? Where's the proof?
    – user2669
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 18:40
  • @h3br3wHamm3r81 who says he has been? Maybe it means he will be anointed in the future?
    – Daniel
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 16:49

Is there any verse in the Qur'an that refers to a Prophet other than ʿĪsā as being "al–Masīḥ"? It appears that ʿĪsā alone is the pre–eminent or greatest "anointed one". The significance of ʿĪsā being called al–Masīḥ (المسيح) is unlike the significance of Prophets without a masīḥ title.

If we were to determine the significance of what is inquired by the question at hand, we should first narrow it down to more specific terms:

What precisely was ʿĪsā anointed with?

Let the Qur'an 2:87:14-16; 5:110:13-15 answer that ʿĪsā was supported by, strengthened by, confirmed with, and anointed with the Holy Spirit of Allāh that is Rūḥ al-Qudus. The anointing of the Holy Spirit caused ʿĪsā to perform countless miracles such as speaking to the people from the cradle, giving life to a bird of clay, giving sight to the blind, cleansing the lepers, even raising the dead. By every miracle he performed, ʿĪsā was exercising the authority of Allāh over the creation proving that Allāh was indeed with him.


Anointing refers to oil. The oil of the ancient world was olive oil, still a product of Palestinian olive groves today. Since it could be used as the fuel for lamps, it symbolized light, which in turn is one of the beautiful names of Allah - Nur. We speak of the light of the prophets, e.g. Nur Muhammad. The Christian gospels speak of the transfiguration of Jesus, when he and the prophets before him were seen radiant with 'light'. So 'light' in turn is a metaphor for a radiant quality of some of the friends of Allah. This radiance is a sign of the real 'anointing'- which may be bestowed on friends of Allah. We might call it a sign of the Rahim of Allah, because no matter how great the radiance bestowed on a prophet or saint, it can never be equated to the Nur of Allah.

And this radiance does not require being doused with physical oil. The physical act of anointing in the Jewish tradition might be interpreted as ritually invoking the blessing of Allah on the person being anointed - a form of supplication. Or it might be an indication of a belief that the person has already been chosen and blessed by Allah. But the reality is always up to the mercy of Allah.

  • Salaam and welcome to Islam.SE. While you do reference many familiar Islamic concepts in your answer, here we prefer answers to be substantially backed up by relevant sources (Quran, Hadith, histories or scholars). Also have a look at the help center guideline on how to write a good answer
    – infatuated
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 5:13

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