Arfajah said "We were with `Utbah Ibn Farqad while he was discussing Ramadan. A companion of the Prophet entered upon the scene. When `Utbah saw him, he became shy and stopped talking. The man (the companion) spoke about Ramadan, saying "I heard the Messenger of Allah say during Ramadan: 'The gates of Hell are closed, the gates of Paradise are opened, and the devils are in chains. An angel calls out : 'O you who intend to do good deeds, have glad tidings. O you who intend to do evil, refrain, until Ramadan is completed.''" (Ahmad and an-Nasa'i)
Fasting in Ramadan; a shield from Hell
The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) said : "When Allah created Paradise and Hell-fire, He sent Jibreel (Gabriel) to Paradise, saying: 'Look at it and at what I have prepared therein for its inhabitants.' The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: 'So he came to it and looked at it and at what Allah had prepared therein for its inhabitants.' The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: 'So he returned to Him and said: 'By your glory, no one hears of it without entering it.' So He ordered that it be encompassed by forms of hardship, and He said: 'Return to it and look at what I have prepared therein for its inhabitants.'' The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: 'So he returned to it and found that it was encompassed by forms of hardship. Then he returned to Him and said: 'By Your glory, I fear that no one will enter it.' He said: 'Go to Hell-fire and look at it and what I have prepared therein for its inhabitants,' and he found that it was in layers, one above the other. Then he returned to Him and said: 'By Your glory, no one who hears of it will enter it.' So He ordered that it be encompassed by lusts (or desires). Then He said: 'Return to it.' And he returned to it and said: 'By Your glory, I am frightened that no one will escape from entering it.''' (at-Tirmithi and al-Hakim among others).
Therefore, when you know, O Dear Brother/Sister, that fasting subdues the desires and reduces their severity, and that it is these desires and lusts that lead to Hell Fire, then you will see how fasting comes between a fasting person and Hell Fire and you will rush to fast in Ramadan and after Ramadan in the best possible way.
The Holy Quran rather talks about the reward of fasting and there are verses which general meaning infers that those who obey Allah will be saved from Hell, and fasting is a form of obeying Allah. We will leave the verses that talk about the reward to the section related to Paradise. However, the Ahadith of our beloved Prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h.) are clear in this regard:
Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah, said: "No servant fasts on a day in the path of Allah except that Allah removes the Hell Fire seventy years further away from his face." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri relates that the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) said : "Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire" (Ahmad, Sahih)
`Uthman Ibn Abil-`Aas relates that the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) said : "Whoever fasts a day in the way of Allah, Allah places between him and the Fire a trench like that between heavens and the earth". (at-Tirmithi and at-Tabarani, Sahih)
Abu Huraira narrated that Allah's Messenger (p.b.u.h.) said : "When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained." (Bukhari)
The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) said : "When it is the first night of Ramadan the evil devils are chained. The gates of Fire are locked- not a single gate is opened, and the gates of Paradise are opened- not a single gate is locked, and a caller calls out: 'O seeker of good come forward, and O seeker of evil withhold, and there are many whom Allah frees from the Fire - and that is every night. (at-Tirmithi, Ibn Majah, and Ibn Khuzaimah: Hasan)
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) climbed upon the mimbar (pulpit) and said: "Aameen (O Allah grant it), aameen, aameen". So it was said, 'O Messenger of Allah, you climbed upon the mimbar and said: 'aameen, aameen, aameen'? So he said: 'Jibraa'eel, `alaihi assalam, came to me and said, 'Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and does not have (his sins) forgiven and so enters Fire, then may Allah distance him, say aameen'. So I said 'aameen''". (Ibn Khuzaimah, Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi: Sahih)
Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) said: "In every day and every night, during the month of Ramadan, there are people to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be granted". (al-Bazzaar, Ahmad and Ibn Majah: Sahih)
In the famous Hadith of Mu`ath, I said: "O Messenger of Allah, tell me of an act which will take me into Paradise and keep me away from Hell-Fire. He said: 'You have asked me about a major matter, yet it is easy for him for whom Allah Almighty makes it easy. You should fast in Ramadan.' Then he (the Prophet) said: 'Shall I not show you the gates of goodness? Fasting is a shield.'" (at-Tirmithi)
We pray to Allah to make for us this Ramadan a shield from Hell Fire.