Dissecting The True Meaning Of Ramadan

Most non-Muslims have a general idea of what Ramadan is: fast during the day, eat and drink at night, repeat for a month.

As Ramadan starts this weekend for most Muslims, HuffPost Live hosted a roundtable discussion about Ramadan in the modern world and delve deeper into its meaning. To glean facts about it, sometimes one must go to the root of the tradition. Author Qasim Rashid gave host Marc Lamont Hill and the rest of the HuffPost Live audience a crash course on Ramadan's literal meaning.

"The word Ramadan means 'to burn,'" Rashid said. "Part of the purpose is to burn away bad habits, burn away impunity. To burn away things that are distracting you from the remembrance of God."

Rashid also pointed to other areas of fasting for Muslims outside of just food and drink, including social media or any other bad habits people pick up in life.

Watch the rest of the clip above, and catch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.

Ramadan Is A Gift- Qasim Rashid
Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images
Ramadan is an priceless opportunity to take action and become a better servant to humanity. Ramadan is a precious gem that attracts God’s nearness, His mercy, His blessings, and His forgiveness. Ramadan is a narrow path that reminds us fasting is not just about abstaining from food and drink, but also from back biting, gossiping, malice, suspicion, miserliness, extravagance, vulgarity, immodesty, infidelity, arrogance, ignorance, cowardice, and thinking ill of others, so that when food and drink become permissible once again, we have built an internal fortress to permanently abstain from the aforementioned bad habits. -Qasim Rashid
What It Means To Be Human- Qamar Ul Huda
Ap Photo/Binsar Bakkara
In the Bible it is stated 'Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in us' (I Cor. 6:19), and in the Qur'an God says, 'I breathe into him [Adam] My Spirit' (28:72). With these verses in mind, the spiritual practices of fasting, prayers, charity, and intense meditation during Ramadan reminds us that our body is a base for the presence of the Spirit. Experiencing the presence of the Spirit reminds us to appreciate the body as sacred as well as rediscover and reconnect the sacredness of nature. The combination of reestablishing our link with nature’s ecology and a deeper God-consciousness (tawhid) fosters a heightened awareness of the One present in all things. Ramadan’s sacred time re-delivers what it means to be human; it provides insight into knowledge of love, beauty, and truth while living a life of gratitude. Ramadan tells us that cultivating wisdom is beyond dogma and doctrine, rather the focus is on the Spirit. -Qamar Ul Huda
Closeness Of The Divine- Ayesha Mattu
Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Image
Ramadan is a celebration of the closeness of the Divine, of family & community - which makes it the perfect time to welcome the stranger into our midst. When inviting loved ones for iftar, ask them to bring someone whom you do not know. Make room especially for those who are without family, partners, or friends during this sacred month, growing both our hearts & our ideas of community. - Ayesha Mattu, editor of "Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex & Intimacy" (Beacon Press, 2014) and
Energies Of Love- Shaikh Kabir Helminski
Ap Photo/Gero Breloer
Muslims who participate in Ramadan are not only supporting and reinforcing each other's spiritual state in a coherent field of resonance, they are also contributing to the global coherence of humanity by sending the energies of love, devotion, and ego-transcendence into the collective soul. Fasting in Ramadan, because it offers an intense lived experience of the holy, saves Islam from being merely a form of belief and takes it to the level of spiritual perception, which is the sustenance of faith. -Shaikh Kabir Helminski
The Fruits Of Patience- Sara Sayeed
AP Photo/Hani Mohammed
This Ramadan, may we strive to be as fully present as possible, experiencing our physical hunger and thirst as the soul’s yearning for divine nourishment. May we find new meaning in our daily prayers and be refreshed by extra supplications. May Muslim communities be as the flowering trees of well-tended orchards, growing in abundance the fruits of patience, kindness, compassion and love. -Sara Sayeed
Mindfulness- Eboo Patel
AP Photo/Bilal Hussein
In my normal life, I'm always rushing around. Mach 5 is my standard speed. During Ramadan, I embrace the slowdown (which is the only way to physically survive the month) and try to channel it into mindfulness. -Eboo Patel
A Spiritual Gym- Abdullah Antepli
Ramadan is a month long spiritual gym where we work on metaphysical muscles through more deliberate disciplines, prayer, reflections and worship. It is an annual Muslim attempt to simultaneously grow vertically in their relationship with their Lord and horizontally with fellow human beings through emphatic and various acts of charity. It is a month of self-auditing and self-evalutaion where believers check their accounts in Heavenly currency terms. May we all able to bring ourselves to a level where we can accept and welcome all what Ramadan can give us. -Abdullah Antepli
Strengthening Bonds- Hind Makki
Before his prophethood, Muhammad bin Abdullah used to spend the entirety of the sacred month of Ramadan in solitude, at Cave Hira, escaping the corruption of the mercantile class in Makkah while contemplating Divine Truth. Today, when Muslims observe Ramadan, we echo our Prophet's solitude, fasting by day and praying at night, yet we do not fully seclude ourselves from the secular. We honor our faith as we spend Ramadan strengthening bonds with neighbors, hosting interfaith and intrafaith iftars, volunteering at places like food kitchens, and donating resources to local underserved communities. -Hind Makki
CAPTION CORRECTION, CORRECTS MONTH - Iraqis enjoy the Eid al-Fitr holiday in a park in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. The three-day Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Palestinians enjoy the Mediterranean sea during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. One of the most important holidays in the Muslim world, Eid al-Fitr, is marked with prayers, family reunions and other festivities. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Young Muslim girls offer prayers at Eidgah during Eid al-Fitr in Allahabad, India, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. Muslims are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh)

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