BOOK REVIEWS 151
sophical concept of God inspired by Neoplatonism. In fact, according to NettonIslamic philosophy is 'a twisting labyrinth' (p. 70) at whose gate the philosophyof al-Kind! stopped while al-Farabl plunged deep into it by creating an'alienated' view of God. One wonders why al-Farabl would spend a life-timepraying according to Qur'anic injunctions to an 'alienated' God.The treatment of al-Farab! is followed by another extensive chapter dealingthis time with Ibn Slna and his concept of necessity and contingency as well ashis emphasis upon God as love. Netton again provides a clear analysis of IbnSlna's ontology and the cosmological scheme which depends upon it and makesuse of not only the Peripatetic works of the master but also his 'Orientalphilosophy'. He also points to the originality of the Avicennan synthesis despiteIbn Slna's heavy debt to al-Farabi.One would expect from a Western scholarly treatment of Islamic philosophythat Ibn Slna would be followed by either al-Ghazzah or Ibn Rushd. But theauthor surprises the reader by devoting the fifth chapter of
work to 'The Godof Medieval Isma'Tlism'. He begins with early Isma'lli cosmology as describedin the writings of Abu 'Isa al-Murshid, the Fatimid
and then turns to the'infiltration of Neoplatonism' with Abu 'Abdallah al-Nasafl, Abu Ya'qub al-Sijistanl and HamTd al-DTn al-Kirmanl with whom the early synthesis ofIsma'TlT doctrines and Neoplatonic theories reaches its peak. Strangely enough,Netton does not deal with perhaps the greatest of Isma'llT philosophers, Nasir-iKhusraw, and concludes with a section on the Yemeni author, Ibrahim al-HamTdT, whose work
Kttab kanz al-walad
he calls the 'apotheosis of theNeoplatonic myth'.Netton continues to depart from the old orientalist scheme of treating Islamicphilosophy by turning in chapter six to two figures often neglected in thetreatment of Islamic philosophy, namely SuhrawardT and Ibn 'Arabl. The latterwas not, of course, strictly speaking a philosopher
as this term isunderstood in the Islamic context, but he was certainly a master of Islamicmetaphysics, the grand expositor of Sufi gnostic doctrines
not to beconfused with gnosticism in early Christian history). The author analyzes clearlythe complicated hierarchy of lights and the meaning of the Light of lights
or illuminative doctrines and also deals withIbn 'ArabTs 'unity of being'
although somewhat lesssuccessfully. At the end of the chapter, he makes an interesting compassionbetween Ibn'Arab!and Eckhart which is a very worthwhile project to follow incontrast to trying to compare Ibn 'Arabl with a modern European deconstruc-tiomst philosopher. Yet, Netton continues by applying deconstructionist theo-ries to Ibn 'ArabT, even going so far as to say, 'In his peculiar and very individualway Ibn al-'ArabT foreshadows the advent of the deconstructionist movement!'
292).The book terminates with a short conclusion entitled 'The Vocabulary ofTranscendance: Towards a Theory of Semiotics for Islamic Theology'. In thisconclusion the author outlines four directions in which a theory of semiotics,which could apply to Islamic theology both medieval and modern, could bedeveloped, these being the way of the
the way of unknowing, the wayof the mystics and the way of deconstruction! (p. 325). It seems that deconstruc-