Why Was Jesus Named Masih?

Many reasons have been given by the Mufassirs (exegetes) as to why the title of Masih is attributed to Jesus. Imam Tabari has cited that Masih is from the root word Ma-sa-ha which has various meanings and can be used in different contexts to offer diverse meanings, it can also play numerous roles in many different contexts.

Ma-sa-ha means to stroke with the hand; to wipe off; wipe away; to rub off; to wash; to wash off; to wipe out, blot out, erase; to clean; to polish; to smooth, smooth with a plane and to plane.

The word Ma-sa-ha can also be used jointly with (bi) i.e. ( masaha bihi), which changes its meaning to : ‘to rub with’ or ‘to anoint’.

Ma-sa-ha can also be used in conjunction with (min), which means to deprive, dispossess, take away or withdraw. These are the most commonly associated meanings of the word Ma-sa ha. It is also used for other definitions which in total come to more than thirty. It is due to this large list of interpretations that scholars have differed on the reason for Jesus being named Masih, of which the most common and widely used are as follows :

    1. Imam Tabari(d.310/888)has stated, "Masih is from Masaha, which means to rub and erase as Jesus’ sins were erased and rubbed off."
    2. Imam Qurtubi has stated, "Masih is from Ma-sa-ha which means to anoint as Jesus was the anointed one."
    3. Imam Qurtubi has stated,"Masih is from the root word Ma-sa-ha, in the sense of ‘to clean’ and ‘to clear’. As Jesus dealt with people in a true, clear and just manner he is known as Masih, the Arabic translation of which would be As-Siddiq The Truthful One."
    4. Imam Qurtubi has stated, "The word Ma-sa-ha also includes the definition of ‘wiping away’ and as Jesus came with the message of God and Guidance to wipe away falsehood, infidelity."
    5. Imam Qurtubi has stated, "Masih in this case has the meaning of Mamsuh, which is an object according to Arabic grammar and refers to Barakah i.e. blessing. Therefore, the whole wording is mamsuhun bil barakati"touched with blessing," as Jesus was showered with great blessings.
    6. Imam Ibn Kathir(d.774/1352) has stated that. "The word Ma-sa-ha also offers the meaning of ‘stroking’. As Jesus was able to cure the blind and the leper by stroking them, he is named Masih (being able to cure by stroking).
These are a few views from the extensive list given by scholars. I will limit it to these as they are the most common and widely shared conceptions. But that which becomes obvious from the above definitions, is the high status conferred upon of I`sa u by Allah. All the meanings are commendable and honourable, all of them are worthy of bestowal upon I`sa u, due to his elevated status.

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