Praise be to Allah.
If a person wants to do good, with a firm and sincere intention, but he is prevented from doing it by an excuse such as sickness, incapacity, or some other legitimate excuse, he will be of the same status as the one who does it.
Al-Bukhaari (4423) narrated from Anas ibn Maalik (may Allah have mercy on him) that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) came back from the campaign to Tabook and when he drew near to Madinah, he said: ““In Madinah there are people who, whenever you travelled any distance or crossed any valley, were with you.” They said: O Messenger of Allah, even though they are in Madinah. He said: “Even though they are in Madinah, because they were kept there by excuses.”
Ibn Maajah (1344) narrated from Abu’d-Darda’ that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever goes to bed intending to wake up and pray during the night, but is overwhelmed by sleep until morning comes, what he intended will be recorded for him, and his sleep is a charity given to him by his Lord.”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.
It was narrated and classed as saheeh by at-Tirmidhi (2325), and also narrated by Ahmad (18031) from Abu Kabshah al-Annamaari that he heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: “In this world there are four types of people: a person upon whom Allah bestows wealth and knowledge, so he fears his Lord with regard to it, upholds ties of kinship with it, and acknowledges the rights of Allah concerning it – he will have the highest status; a person upon whom Allah bestows knowledge but does not grant him wealth, so he is sincere in his intention and says: ‘If I had wealth, I would do the same as So and so’ – so he will be rewarded according to his intention and the reward of both will be the same; a person upon whom Allah bestows wealth but does not grant him knowledge, so he squanders his wealth without knowledge, and does not fear his Lord with regard to it or uphold his ties of kinship with it, and he does not acknowledge the rights of Allah concerning it – he will be the lowest in status; and a person upon whom Allah has not bestowed wealth or knowledge, so he says: ‘If I had wealth, I would do the same as So and so’ – so he will be judged according to his intention, and the burden of sin of both will be the same.”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhi
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Whoever intends to do a righteous deed and does as much of it as he is able to, but is unable to complete it, will have the same reward as one who does it.
End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (22/243)
He also said:
These people intended to do the deeds that they used to do, and wanted to do that, but they were unable to do it, so they will be of the same status as those who did it.
End quote from Mamoo‘ al-Fataawa (10/441)
He also said: The one who genuinely wants to do it, and also does as much as he is able to, will be of the same status as the one who did it in full. End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (10/731)
This sharing or equality between the one who intends to do it and the one who does it, that is mentioned in the text, only refers to the basic reward for the deed; that does not imply that he will have the same reward as the one who does it in all aspects.
Ibn Rajab (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The words “the reward of both will be the same” are understood to mean that they will be the same with regard to the basic reward for that deed, but not in terms of the multiple reward, because multiplication of the reward is only for the one who actually did it, not for the one who intended to do it but did not do it.
End quote from Jaami‘ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hikam (2/321)
Muslim (1909) narrated from the hadith of Sahl ibn Hunayf (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever sincerely asks Allah for martyrdom, Allah will cause him to attain the status of the martyrs, even if he dies in his bed.”
It says in ‘Awn al-Ma‘bood (4/268):
“Allah will cause him to attain the status of the martyrs” as a reward to him for his sincerity in seeking martyrdom, “even if he dies in his bed”, because each of them (the one who died as a martyr and the one who died in his bed) intended good and did what they were able to do, so they will be equal in terms of the basic reward. End quote.
Al-Mannaawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“even if he dies in his bed” because each of them intended good and did what he was able to, so they will both be equal in terms of the basic reward, but the fact that they will be equal in this regard does not necessarily mean that they will be equal in the way they are rewarded or in the details of their reward, because the reward for a deed and the intention (that precedes it) is greater than the reward for the intention alone. If a person intends to perform Hajj but does not have any wealth with which to do so, he will be rewarded (for his intention) but his reward will be less than that of the one who actually does Hajj. Undoubtedly what the one who is killed attains of the reward of martyrdom will be greater than the reward of the one who intends it but dies in his bed, even if he will still attain the status of martyr. Although they are equal in reward, the deeds of the one who actually does it dictate that he should be given an extra reward and brought closer to Allah. This is the bounty of Allah that He bestows upon whomever He will.
End quote from Fayd al-Qadeer (6/186)
Al-Bukhaari (1896) and Muslim (1152) narrated that Sahl ibn Sa‘d (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “In Paradise there is a gate called al-Rayyaan, through which those who fast will enter on the Day of Resurrection, and no one else but them will enter it. It will be said: Where are those who used to fast? And they will enter through it. When the last of them has entered, it will be shut and no one else will enter through it.”
So the gate of ar-Rayyaan is only for those who fast, because they bore with patience thirst during the day in Ramadan, especially during the hot summer days.
Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
With regard to the gate of fasting being called the gate of ar-Rayyaan, this is entirely appropriate, because the reward for the fasting person who becomes thirsty is to be given water (yurwa), hence it is called by the name of the reward.
End quote from Kashf al-Mushkil (3/391)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“Ar-Rayyaan” means the one who is given water (yurwa), because those who fast become thirsty, especially during the long hot summer days. So they will be rewarded by this gate being named for that which is applicable specifically to them: the gate of ar-Rayyaan.
End quote from Sharh Riyadh as-Saaliheen (5/271)
If a person is suffering chronic sickness which makes him unable to fast, so he feeds the poor in lieu of fasting, and Allah knows that if he was able to do so, he would fast, then he will have the basic reward of one who fasts, without that reward being multiplied and without the virtue that results from fasting.
What appears to be the case is that the promise mentioned in the hadith, of being admitted to Paradise through the gate of ar-Rayyaan, is part of the extra reward that is only for the one who fasts, and it is extra to the basic reward. That is only for those who fast in a real sense, not those who intend to fast but are unable to do so.
In fact it is more likely that this particular virtue is not for everyone who fasts; rather it is for those who focus on fasting to the extent that they observe a lot of supererogatory fasts, not just the obligatory fast.
Az-Zarqaani said in his commentary on al-Muwatta’ (3/77):
“And I hope that you will be one of them” – the scholars said: Hope on the part of Allah or His Prophet means that that thing will definitely happen. This was stated clearly in the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbaas that was narrated by Ibn Hibbaan, in which it says: He said: “Yes, and that is you, O Abu Bakr.” In this hadith there is an indication of how few those people will be who will be called from all of those gates, and there is also an indication that what is meant is voluntary deeds of the types mentioned, not the obligatory deeds, because there are many who do all kinds of obligatory deeds, in contrast to voluntary deeds, for there are very few who do all kinds of voluntary deeds. End quote.
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said:
This indicates that not all people are enabled by Allah to do all types of righteous deeds, and that some may be enabled by Allah to do some deeds but be deprived of doing others, and only a few people will be enabled by Allah to do all types of righteous deeds, and Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with him) was one of those few.
End at-Tamheed (7/185)
The fact that the one who was excused from fasting will not enter Paradise through that gate will not matter, if he fears Allah and does good deeds, for Paradise has many gates, as Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“ ‘Adn (Eden) Paradise (everlasting Gardens), which they shall enter and (also) those who acted righteously from among their fathers, and their wives, and their offspring. And angels shall enter unto them from every gate”
Al-Bukhaari (1897) and Muslim (2027) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever gives a pair of anything for the sake of Allah will be called from the gates of Paradise: ‘O slave of Allah, this is good.’ Whoever was one of the people of prayer will be called from the gate of prayer; whoever was one of the people of jihad, will be called from the gate of jihad; whoever was one of the people of fasting, will be called from the gate of ar-Rayyaan; and whoever was one of the people of charity will be called from the gate of charity.”
Whoever misses out on the virtue of one kind of righteous deed because he has an excuse has many other righteous deeds that he may do. So whoever misses out on the gate of ar-Rayyaan, let him strive to be among the people of the other gates, such as the gate of prayer, the gate of jihad, the gate of Hajj, the gate of charity, or other gates of Paradise.
Please see also the answer to question no. 148176.
And Allah knows best.