From ad-Dawal ila-Allah magazine
Allah – the Most High – has favored us with countless blessings, the greatest of them being Islam itself. Within the religion of Islaam there are many favors; one is the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. However, many of us overlook this bounty and are thus left with an incomplete depiction of Ramadan, often viewing it as a month to get oneself into shape!! Or rigidly describing it as a training program teaching self-restraint. Most importantly Ramadan is an act of Ebadah (worship), the fulfillment of Allah’s commandments and one of the great mercies of Allah to His believers for both this world and the next. lbn al-Qayyim  wrote in his famous book ‘Zaadul-Ma’aad 2/8587 :’From the Mercy of the Mighty and Most Merciful is that He prescribed for them fasting which will cut off the excesses of eating and drinking and empties the hearts of its desires which divert it on its journey to Allah -the Most High. He prescribed it in due proportion as will be appropriate and will benefit the servant with regard to this world and to the Hereafter; and it will not harm him, nor damage what is beneficial for him.”
The Virtues of Ramadaan
a) The Hellfire is locked and the gates of Paradise are opened
Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “When Ramadaan comes the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of the Fire are locked and the devils are chained…” 
All praise is for Allah Who out of His infinite Mercy locks the gates of Hell, chains and shackles the devils and opens up the gates of Paradise in this month for His servants, making it easier for them to devote this special time to His worship. It makes it harder for the evil jinn to corrupt the people as they usually do, because Insha’Allah the Muslims will be occupied with fasting, engaged in reading the Qur’aan, busy with extra prayers and in doing other righteous actions which help clean and purify their hearts.
b) Sins are Forgiven.
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) explained to his Ummah that Ramadaan has such a high station that even if a Muslim’s sins were as much as the foam upon the sea, they would be forgiven through fasting in this month.
He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “He who fasts in Ramadaan due to eemaan and hoping for reward from Allah then his previous sins are forgiven.” 
Furthermore, in this month people are freed from the Hellfire every day and night, due to Allah’s extreme Mercy. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) told us in this regard that:
“There are in the month of Ramadaan in every day and night, those whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and it will be granted.” 
This supplication, which is never rejected occurs at the time of breaking the fast. (See Sunan ibn Maajah, 1/557)
Another virtue of this blessed month is that in it falls the night that is better than a thousand months, in which descends the angels and the Rooh, u  and in which if one is standing in prayer out of faith and seeking reward, then his previous sins are forgiven. This is the Night of Decree – Lailatul-Qadr .
The Virtues of Fasting:
Fasting itself is an action which has many virtues and rewards, Allah – the one free from all imperfections – revealed in His Book “..and fast, it is better for you if you did but know.” [Soorah al- Baqarah (2) : 184]
To try and help us understand just how valuable it is, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) informed us that it is a shield against the Hellfire, a protection against desires, a cause to enter Paradise and a gate from the gates of Paradise has been particularized for it, as well as other merits.
A) A shield.
He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: ‘Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the fire.” 
Fasting weakens and cuts off desires and since it is desires which lead to the fire, it can be seen how fasting acts as a protection against them, as a barrier, a shield, between the fasting person and the fire. It safeguards one from indulging in foul speech, quarrels and fights. It also develops the habit of self-control and restraint.
It is for this reason that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), ordered the men who are unable to marry, to practice the act of fasting. Fasting will cut off the sensual desire by diminishing the vigor of the body, calming and constraining it.
“ 0 youths, whosoever amongst you is able to marry then let him do so, since it restrains the eyes and protects the private parts, and he who is unable, then let him fast because it is a shield for him.” 
b) A Cause for Entering Paradise.
Since fasting distances one from the fire, it brings one closer to Paradise. The Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was asked by his Companion Abo Umaamah (radhi allahu anhu): “0 Messenger of Allah tell me an action by which I may enter Paradise.” He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Take to fasting, there is nothing like it.” 
c) An Immense Reward
Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold rewards, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High has said: “Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will recompense it, he leaves of his desires and his food for Me. For the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time of joy when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, the smell coming from the mouth of a fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of Musk..” 
The main virtue of fasting, as with any action, is that it is done purely for the sake of Allah. The difference with fasting is that it is an act completely hidden from others so it is done merely for the pleasure of Allah (unlike for example: Prayer, Hajj etc.) and so Allah rewards His servant for it specially.
d) An Intercession
Another great virtue of fasting is that it will act as an intercessor with Allah on the Day of Judgement – a day when we will be in need of intercession.
He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Fasting and the Qur’aan intercede for a servant on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: “0 my Lord I prevented him from food and desires so accept my intercession for him” and the Qur’aan will say: “I prevented him from sleep at night, so accept my intercession for him” So their intercessions will be accepted.” 
e) An Expiation for Various Sins
Allah – the Most High – has also made fasting an expiation for certain sins. This means if someone commits one of these sins then he can atone for it by fasting a fixed number of days. Fasting is an expiation for:
(i) Shaving the head while in a state of ihraam [i.e. while one is performing the rites of Hajj or Umrah.] due to some illness][Soorah al-Baqarah (2) :196]
(ii) One who is unable to carry out the obligatory sacrifice during Hajj – [Soorah al-Baqarah (2) : 196]
(iii) Accidentally killing one of the people with whom you have a treaty – [Soorah an-Nisaa (4) : 92]
(iv) Hunting game while in a state of ihraam – [Soorah al-Maaidah (5) :95]
(v) Violating an oath – [Soorah al-Maaidah (5) :893]
(vi) Dhihaar [This is the saying of husband to his wife: “You are to me like the back of my mother (i.e. awful to me) ] – [Soorah al-Mujaadilah (58) : 3 – 4]
f) Ar-Rayaan is for the Fasting People
Finally, Allah – the One free from all imperfections – has particularized a gate from the gates of Paradise for those who fast. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Indeed, there is a gate of Paradise called ar-Rayaan. On the Day of Resurrection those who fast will enter through it; no one enters it except for them, end when they have entered, it is closed so that no one (else) enters it.” 
“The status of fasting and its place in lslaam should now be clear to us, by Allah’s permission, and also the great rewards awaiting the one who fasts seeking the pleasure of Allah. The rewards can, however increase or decrease depending upon how close it is upon the way of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). Therefore we must know the characteristics of his (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) fast, together with its obligatory duties, its manners and the relevant supplications and then put that into practice.”
“ May Allah – the Most High grant us the ability to do that which allow us to capture the fruits of this month and make us amongst those who enter His Paradise through the gate of Ar-Rayaan.”
 Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (691-75). He was born in Damascus. He is one of great scholars of Islam: a muhaddith and a faqeh and the foremost student of Shaikhul Islam Ibn Taimeeyah. Among his famous books are Zaadul-Ma’aad and Ilaam ul-Muwaqqi’een and his length of poem on the tenets of faith, al-Qasida an-Nooniyyah.
 Bukhari Eng, v.3, # 123) & Muslim eng, v..2, # .2361 from Abo Hurairah, radhiAllahu anhu.
 Narrated by Aboo Hurairah and collected in Saheeh al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. Vol.3, no.125) & Saheeh Muslim (Eng. Trans. Vol.1, no.1664). The hadeeth applies to one who affirms the obligation of fasting in Ramadaan and hopes for the reward of doing it, being pleased with it, not feeling aversion to it, nor thinking that standing in its night is a hardship.
 Saheeh – Narrated by Jaabir and collected in Musnad Ahmad and al-Bazzar.
 See Soorah al-Qadr (97): 4.
 See the article titled ‘The Night of Qadr’ for more details on this special night.
Saheeh – Jaabir in Ahamd 3/241,296.
 Narrated by Ibn Masood & collected in Saheeh al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. Vol.3, no.129)
 Saheeh – an-Nisaaee (4/165), al-Haakim (1/421) and others. Authentic by Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh al-Jamee. (no.4044).
 Reported by Muslim from Aboo Hurairah (Eng. Trans. Vol.2, no. 2567).
 Hasan- Ahmad (6626), al-Haakim (1/554) & Aboo Nu’aam (8/161) from Abdullah Ibn Amr.
 Bukhari eng. v.3,#.120, Muslim eng. V.2, # 2569 from Sahl ibn Sa’ad radhi’Alaahu anhu.