Forty Five years ago, I was sitting at Shehab Mosque in a Beirut neighborhood, Lebanon. I was helping the imam, Sheikh Abdul Sami Al Shareef with his Quranic studies session after the sunset prayers. I was the youngest among the several older people who gathered in a circle to hear Shiekh Al Shareef interpret the Quran and the statements of Muhammad. Since I was the youngest and the only one who could read better than the older people in the dim light, I was given the honor of reading to the group.
It was a passage from the Quran that talked about Jesus and His mother the Virgin Mary. Jesus was described as Issa Al Massih (Arabic for the Messiah). Young and inquisitive, I stopped reading and asked my sheikh about the meaning of Massih (Messiah).
The sheikh who was in his eighties and the graduate of the most prestigious Sunni Muslim seminary in the world, Al Azhar, paused for a few second. Then the learned imam gave the following answers.
First opinion, it might mean flat-footed. Second opinion, it might mean the one who toured the earth or sojourned, because Jesus travelled a lot. Third, since the word Massih might be derived from the verb “massaha” which means “to wipe,” it might mean that he wiped pain from the face of the earth when He lived among people. Fourth, we might not know… Allahu A’lam (“God knows better;” an Arabic expression devout Muslims and scholars usually finish their verdicts with).
The Quran borrowed the term Messiah and emptied it from its powerful meaning. Below is an article about the real meaning of the word Massih (Messiah):