Prophet Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, once said: “When the month of Ramadan begins, the gates of the heaven are opened; the gates of Hell-fire are closed, and the devils are chained.” (Sahih Bukhari 1800)
Ramadan, the month of fasting is no different from any other month as far as crimes are concerned. Sins and crime continue to take place in this month all around the world. Does this hadith mean the deviations in this month would not count? Does it mean that every sin in this month would be forgiven or does it mean that people cannot commit sin in this month?
I believe this hadith explains some key concepts of Ramadan in an allegorical manner. If we consider the language as symbolic, the hadith offers a logical and viable rationale for developing a strong conviction and appreciation of the Prophetic wisdom.
We can infer from the opening of the gates of the heavens to mean that God makes our journey to the heavenly state of utmost peace and happiness effortless and accessible under His divine grace in the month of Ramadan. During this month believers have a month-long opportunity to change their lifestyle and environment to attain a higher state of self-consciousness. Such a journey would help them enjoy every moment of the month and qualify for uninterrupted mercy and blessings of the Divine in this life and the hereafter.
Closing the gates of hell means that the Creator is eager and ready to forgive every sin committed by anyone if sincere repentance is sought. The month invites us to self-evaluation and identifying weaknesses in character followed by actions to better ourselves. In other words, forgiveness is the divine offering for this month. However, one must realize that repentance and forgiveness has to be done in a manner that is genuine. It means a person is conscious of wrong actions and is willing to.