Short Answer: Because God doesn’t refer to Prophet Muhammad as the “Messiah”, but he does refer to Prophet Jesus that way, nine different times throughout the Quran. But, it’s important to know that God referring to Jesus as the “Messiah” does not mean that Jesus is somehow more than a man, a very, very good man who obeyed God and spread His truth, like Prophet Muhammad and all the other Prophets who were anointed by God.
Asalamu Alaikum Hassanain,
Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.
Muslims believe that all Prophets (peace be upon them all) are anointed by Allah Almighty to bear His message to mankind and there is no distinction between prophets in terms of their importance or dignity.
The answer to your question is very simple: Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is referred to as “Messiah” because this is the title Allah Almighty uses for him.
It is not a title conferred on him by Muslims, but by Allah. And Allah knows best.
All Prophets are Anointed by God, But Jesus is Different
Every prophet of God is anointed by God, a Messiah. But the title al-Maseeh (or The Messiah) is exclusively reserved for Jesus, the son of Mary, in both Islam and in Christianity.
One of the explanations put forward by Muslim lexicographers is that Jesus was the Messiah because he anointed the eyes of the blind to cure them (Quran 3:43; Mark 6:13; James 5:14).
Others have said it’s because he used to lay hands on the sick.
The Quran confirms that Jesus was different from other Prophets. He was born of a virgin. When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child, she replied:
“My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal has touched me.” She received the following reply: “So (it will be). Allah creates what He will. If He decrees a thing, He says unto it only: ‘Be!’ and it is.” (Quran 3:45-47)
In sixteen of the twenty-five places in the Quran where Jesus is mentioned, he is called “the son of Mary” (Ibn Maryam). Since he had no father, he was named so after his mother.
The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger; messengers before him had indeed passed away. (Quran 5:75)
The Quran refers to Jesus as the Messiah (al-Maseeh) at least nine times.
“Messiah” Does Not Mean “God”, Nor “Son of God”
Allah tells us:
But the Messiah said, “O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.” (Quran 5:72)
And in another place:
O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion, and do not say anything concerning Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers […]. (Quran 4:171)
He is the Messiah, the Messenger of Allah, a Word from Allah, and a Spirit from Allah Almighty, but he is not God, nor is he the “son of God”.
Jesus: A Prophet For His People in His Time
As Muslims, we believe that all Prophets were sent to a particular people at a particular time in their history.
Moses, for example, was sent to the Children of Israel at a specific time, and he was given a Book (the Torah) for that people and that time in their history.
This is why, as Muslims, we believe that all former scriptures, before the Quran, became altered over time, since Allah never intended them to last in their entirety.
They were precisely for a particular people at a particular time. Prophet Jesus, too, was sent at a specific time in history as the Messenger to the Jews.
It is only with the coming of Prophet Muhammad, the last and final Messenger of Allah, that Allah sends a Book, the Quran, which is intended for all people and for all time.
Since Prophet Jesus was sent by Allah Almighty as the particular Messenger to the Children of Israel, Allah Almighty uses the title for him used by the Jews throughout their history.
Unfortunately, the Jews have misunderstood what this Messenger (or Messiah) would really be like.
Finally, Prophet Muhammad, sent as the final Messenger and seal of all the Prophets, puts the importance of Jesus for Muslims into context:
If anyone testifies that none has the right to be worshiped but God alone who has no partners, and that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger, and that Jesus is God’s servant and His Messenger and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit from Him, and that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, God will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he has done even if those deeds were few. (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam’s archives)