The Whole Person Education Office (WPEO) hosted the first talk of their five-part ’Community of Common Destiny for Mankind’ lecture series on 21 and 22 December. The lecture series aims to increase understanding of cultures and societies that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by inviting guest lecturers to speak on their backgrounds and research.


The first lecture in the series was titled ’Building the community of common destiny: Basics & contributions of Arabic and Islamic civilization’, and was given by PhD Professor of Islamic Archaeology at Minia University, Prof Mahmoud Massoud Ibrahim Abdel Monem. The Director of WPEO, Dr Haipeng Guo, introduced Prof Monem, and welcomed him to Zhuhai after his long journey from Egypt. After highlighting the significance of this lecture series, Dr Guo gave Prof Monem the floor.


Prof Monem gave a two-part lecture beginning on December 21 and resuming on the 22, with the first part being titled ’Mosaic of Islamic Culture’. This lecture heavily focused on the descriptions and analysis of various Islamic art forms, and their relevance in culture. His first example was Islamic calligraphy, which he called “The tongue of the hand”. Prof Monem told the audience that, “It is important and sacred for Muslims to use these kinds of inscriptions”, and he showed examples of the varying types of calligraphy.

Afterwards, Prof Monem moved the discussion into a focus on architecture and building styles in Muslim cities. He showed many different examples of architectural styles that were typically used in building homes or mosques. An interesting example was that many traditional Muslim homes will have two door knockers, one bigger and heavier one for men to use, and a smaller and lighter one for women to use, so that whoever is inside can be prepared for if a man or woman is arriving at the door.


On day two of his lecture, Prof Monem gave more of a focus to smaller art pieces and pottery. He detailed that in Muslim culture it is inappropriate to use plates made of gold or silver, and talked about how artists used a powder to imitate the gold colour in order to create dishes out of “gold”. This type of art began around the 8th century in Egypt, and quickly made its way to Iran and Iraq.


Much of the artwork that Prof Monem showcased featured arabesque designs, such as flowers and floral features. After showing some plates, Prof Monem also showed artwork on doors, lamps as well as coins.


To finish his lecture, Prof Monem talked more about the history of architecture in Muslim cities, detailing that when Muslim cities are built, they first plan where to put the Mosque, and then build everything around that. He showed several examples of city layouts based on this philosophy, and then displayed the detailing on some of the mosques, especially the very intricate arches.


The first lecture in this lecture series was a very informative one, and is one of five lectures that will be offered this academic year, in order to give a glimpse into some of the many cultures involved in the BRI.  Stay tuned for communications from WPEO for upcoming lectures on: India and Hinduism, Russia and the Orthodox, China and Confucianism as well as Europe and the Western Civilization. 

Reporter: Samantha Burns
Photographers: Samantha Burns. Ivy Liao
Editors: Deen He, Samuel Burgess
(from MPRO)