بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Shaikh Saaleh al Fawzaan حفظه الله comments regarding the statement of Allaah [The Most High]:
“وَمَن يَبۡتَغِ غَيۡرَ ٱلۡإِسۡلَٰمِ دِينٗا فَلَن يُقۡبَلَ مِنۡهُ وَهُوَ فِي ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِ مِنَ ٱلۡخَٰسِرِينَ”
“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” Surah Aal-E-Imran, Ayah 85
The definition of Islaam, which is to submit to Allah with Tawhid (singling out Allaah with all worship), obeying him and freeing oneself from shirk (worshipping other than him) and its people. This is Islaam.
It is false to adhere to all other religions, except Islaam- the religion which Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] brought; meaning, those religions are false after they have been abrogated, for indeed it is not allowed to act upon what has been abrogated because this is acting upon a divine legislation whose time has elapsed, so whoever remains upon it is following a religion other than the religion ordained by Allaah.
It is obligated on the people of the scripture to follow Muhammad (ﷺ) because his religion is Islaam. As for following other than Muhammad (ﷺ) then this is not considered to be Islaam because it has been abrogated and its time has elapsed, and all the people of the earth are now commanded to follow Muhammad (ﷺ).
Whoever dies whilst following a religion other than Islaam, then he will be from the people of the hell fire, because Allah (The Most High) said:
“فَلَن يُقۡبَلَ مِنۡهُ وَهُوَ فِي ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِ مِنَ ٱلۡخَٰسِرِينَ…”
“….it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”
and Allah (The Most High) said:
” إِنَّهُۥ مَن يُشۡرِكۡ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدۡ حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيۡهِ ٱلۡجَنَّةَ وَمَأۡوَىٰهُ ٱلنَّارُۖ وَمَا لِلظَّٰلِمِينَ مِنۡ أَنصَار…”
“Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) there are no helpers.” Surah Al-Ma’idah, Ayah 72
ِand He (The Most High) said regarding the Hell Fire: “أُعِدَّتۡ لِلۡكَٰفِرِينَ..” “prepared for the disbelievers.” Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 24
This verse is a refutation against all innovations and newly invented matters in the religion, because they do not belong to the religion of Islaam, even if the person claims that he is seeking Allaah’s Pleasure and Reward by way of it and that he is upon obedience and desires good, but rather his worship through acts of innovation and newly invented matters in the religion will make him from amongst the losers [of those deeds] in the hereafter, because he is following a religion other than Islaam [in relation to those innovated acts of worship].
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “ “من عمل عملا ليس عليه أمرنا فهو رد
“Whoever performs an action contrary to our way (i.e., Islam) will have it rejected. [MUSLIM]
and He (ﷺ) said: “وَإِيَّاكُمْ وَمُحْدَثَاتِ الْأُمُورِ؛ فَإِنَّ كُلَّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلَالَةٌ…”
Beware of newly invented matters [in the religion], for verily every newly invented matter in the religion is an innovation in religion, and every innovation in the religion is misguidance.” [Reported by Abu Dawud]
The people of bidah are different from each other with regards to how distant they are from the religion and exiting its legislation, because amongst them are those who completely exit the religion if their bidah is tantamount to major disbelief, such as the bidah of worshipping graves and tombs, sacrificing to other than Allah and vowing to other than Allah, for indeed these are religious innovations that are tantamount to major disbelief and it exits a person from Islaam, because it is ascribing partners to Allaah in worship. (Ref 1)
And if the bidah does not necessitate apostasy, then it is still an act of misguidance, as he (ﷺ) said: “Verily every newly invented matter in the religion is an innovation in religion, and every innovation in religion is misguidance.” This type of bidah causes a person’s Eemaan (faith) to be deficient and distances him from the religion in accordance to the bidah that is committed, however the person is neither judged to be a disbeliever nor that he’ll remain in the hell fire forever, even though – as the scholars have stated – a bidah is a path that can lead to disbelief; it can lead a person bit by bit until he exits the religion of Islam.
[End of quote] [Source: Min Ahkhaam Al-Qur’aan by Shaikh Salih al Fawzaan حفظه الله vol.1 pgs. 56 – 58]
Ref 1: NB: Even if a person falls into major disbelief or major shirk, then still it is not the responsibility of anyone to declare such a person a disbeliever, rather his affair is dealt with by the scholars. Also there’s something called Al-Udr Bil Jahl [Excuse of Ignorance]. See here: http://www.manhaj.com/manhaj/articles/obkwf-takfir-and-the-excuse-of-ignorance-shaykh-saalih-al-fawzaan.cfm