How do we combine between the two ayahs:
وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
“Whoever seeks other than Islaam as a Religion, it will never be accepted from him” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan 3:85] and
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالصَّابِئُونَ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
“Verily, those who have believed and those who were Jews, Sabians, and Christians who believed in Allaah and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – there is no fear upon them nor do they worry.” [Surah Al-Maa’idah 5:69]
 Answer by Imam al-Albaani (rahimahullaah):
There is no contradiction between these two ayahs as the question suggests. And this is because the verse about Islaam (3:85) came after the Message of Islaam was conveyed to those people whom Allah described in the second ayah as: “There is no fear upon them nor do they worry.”
Allaah mentions amongst them the Sabians. When the word Sabian is mentioned what quickly comes to mind is a reference to those who worship the stars. However, in reality, this term applies to all people that fall into Shirk after having been from among the adherents of Tawheed. So the Sabians were once proponents of pure Monotheism, but then they were subjected to polytheism and worshipping of stars. So the ones mentioned in this verse refer to the believers amongst them, the adherents of Tawheed.
Before the Message of Islaam came, these people were like the Jews and Christians, whom were also mentioned in the same list as the Sabians. So this refers to those among them that were practicing their Religion at their time. They were from among the believers of whom: “There is no fear upon them nor do they worry.”
However, after Allaah sent Muhammad (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) with the Religion of Islaam, the Message of Islaam was conveyed to these three types of people – the Jews, the Christians and the Sabians. And so nothing else but Islaam was accepted from them.
Therefore, Allaah’s statement: “Whoever seeks other than Islaam as a Religion” refers to after Islaam was conveyed to him upon the tongue of the Messenger (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) and after the Message of Islaam was passed on to him. So at that point, nothing other than Islaam was acceptable
As for those who died before the advent of the Messenger of Allaah (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) or those who are alive today on the face of the earth but yet the Message of Islaam has not reached them or the Message of Islaam has reached them but in a manner that is distorted from its true and original state – as I have mentioned in some occasions about the Qadiyanis, for example, who today have spread throughout Europe and America, claiming Islaam, however this Islaam, which they claim to be upon is not from Islaam at all, since they believe that prophets will come after the final Prophet, Muhammad (صلّى الله عليه وسلّم) – then these people, among the Europeans and Americans that have been called to the Qadiyani form of Islam while the true Message of Islaam was not conveyed to them, they fall into two categories:
The first category contains those who remained upon their prior (pure) Religion and held steadfast onto it. This is how the ayah: “there is no fear upon them nor do they worry” should be understood.
The second category consists of those who deviated from this Religion – as is the case with many Muslims today – so the proof is established against them.
As for those whom the Call to Islaam has not been conveyed to at all – whether after Islaam came or before it, such people will get a special treatment in the Hereafter. And it is by Allaah sending them a messenger that will test them, just as the people were tested in the worldly life. So whoever answers the call of this messenger on the Day of Judgement and obeys him will enter Paradise. And whoever disobeys him will enter the Hellfire.
[See Silsilat-ul-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah (2468)]