The Objectives of Quranic Self-Referentiality

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Jonathan Hoffman


The purpose of this analysis is to analyze the self-referential nature of the Quranic revelation, and address why such referentiality was necessary. The central premise of this research is that Quranic self-referentiality was primarily designed to achieve three objectives: (1) to establish that the Quran is indeed revelation (scripture) from God (and not constructed by Muhammad, the product of “sooth-sayings”, etc.), (2) to establish itself in relation to other texts revealed by God, specifically within the Abrahamic tradition (i.e. in the same lineage of the other revealed scriptures – confirmation of that which came before it), and (3) to assert its authority as the final revelation and the seal of the original covenant with Abraham, thereby correcting misinterpretations, distortions, and divisions made regarding previous revelations. These three objectives can be thought of as (1) authorization, (2) legitimization, and (3) culmination.[1] In this sense, the purpose of Quranic self-referentiality is to ultimately establish this revelation on the same/equal plane as the other revelations within the Abrahamic tradition, for only by first establishing itself as “equal” could the Quranic text then move on to its goal of critically addressing the receivers of previous revelations (the Ahl al-Kitab – People of the Book) on an equal level, and assert itself as the final revelation.


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Research Article (English)