Ramadan is around nine days away and a pre-hand preparation of the self and a spiritual warm up is due, in order to be fit enough and work hard to attain the great  reward of the holy month, in this life and the hereafter. Sahl (may Allah be pleased with him) said that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “There is a gate in paradise called Al Rayyan, and those who observe Sawm (fasting) will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it. It will be said: ‘where are those who used to observe Sawm?’ They will enter through it. After their entry the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it.” — Narrated by Imam Bukhari. Similar to that gate opened in Paradise for those who fast, another leading to abound of unspoken rewards is opened in this life for sincere and genuine Sawm observers, as it is meant to be and as ordained by Allah Almighty. Ramadan is more than just fasting, and fasting itself is more than a physical act, but, in essence, more spiritual, involving an absolute engagement of the whole self, body and soul, harmonizing the person’s being in its totality in a tuneful state of submissiveness to receive the meritorious bounties of Sawm. Fasting summons one’s self to a process of deep mental, physical and spiritual cleansing, of all sorts of overwhelming aches, which, in most cases, don’t really seem like carrying any harm. When one fasts, thereby refraining from whichever that fulfills the self’s materialistic desires, the soul transcends to a higher state of being and consciousness, rising above worldly needs and engaging more in a spiritual exercise that feeds its moral attributes. I will put this more clearly by jotting down some of the merits of Sawm and then relate to the theory mentioned in the epilogue above. Besides purifying the soul and coaching it into becoming less dependable on materialistic fulfillment of its base desires, fasting acts as a serious exercise of self-control and taming one’s desires and inclinations, creating room for exploring more of the soul needs and allowing it to prove its great potential in making the whole self content and satisfied. Sawm is a unique act of worship that involves and indeed develops a strong Allah-Servant relation, thus imbibing a genuine feeling of devotion and submissiveness to Almighty Allah, His will, and finding all the pleasure in attaining His satisfaction. It’s the kind of devotion which itself creates in a man a truthful feeling of independence and self-sufficiency. It furthermore nurtures a true sense of love of Allah, inspired by being engaged in an act that requires great deal of honesty with Him. For sawm, as a discrete act that can be easily violated without others knowing, requires a strong level of honesty and sincerity, which all that’s needed for a sound Allah-Servant relation. Fasting also develops in the person a strong capacity for patience and endurance, which stretches his tolerance for many difficulties that may arouse in the course of his life, let that be shortage of money, loss of a dear person or others. Even on the physical level, fasting does have proven health benefits, as it engages the body in a natural process of detoxification, and helps it use its fat reserves that are stored and piled up as a result of excess food and continuous eating. But then again one shall not reap the health benefit of sawm unless he/she fasts as fasting should be and as the Prophet (pbuh) has taught us, i.e. 1-eating a light meal of Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal), 2- hastening the break of the fast, 3- refraining from stuffing the stomach with too much and fatty food after breaking the fast. By purifying the self and having it rise above its base desires, a person is then more fit for genuine communal engagement, in so doing, grasping the social benefits of Sawm, among the characteristics of which is planting the seed of strong sense of solidarity among the society’s varying standards, thus removing all barriers between classes that were formed along the social hierarchy humanity has ever been experiencing. During Ramadan, Muslims all over the world are invited to eat at a particular and accurate timing, which instills in them a strong sense of brotherhood and a spiritual bond that’s capable of cutting through the distances splitting them. And with social gatherings and congregational Qeyam prayers highly encouraged during the Holy month, Ramadan comes as an opportune chance for strengthening family ties and brotherhood among Muslims, fixing any existing dissension and reviving warm feelings that grew cold through the year… Abu Hurayrah (RAA) narrates that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “When (the month of Ramadan) begins, the gates of Paradise are opened.” — Narrated by Imam Bukhari. So do not miss this gate to paradise- cling to it and make sure you ready up for it. Roll up your sleeves everybody, jot down your plan, decide on the charity institution you shall be donating to, the mosque where you shall observe congregational prayer, arrange with the group of people who shall join you, and don’t forget the list of your family members and friends whom you’ll greet on the first night of Ramadan, make sure you miss nobody. Blessed Ramadan for you and your loved ones, or as the traditional Arabic greetings say it: “Ramadan Kareem”; “Generous Ramadan”.