As far as I know, If a Person is not a muslim, then He or her has not chance to go to Jannah. If the person is a disbeliever because he has never known the existence of Islam, then he can be accepted into Jannah. My question is: Let's say there is a Christian, and he knows the existence of Islam, and he respect it as a religion, but he still holds onto his. This person spent all his life helping others, doing a lot of volunteering in Africa and in Asia just to save and help lives ecc... and sacrificing his whole life for others. Now, is this person still not accepted into Jannah? does he really have to spend the eternity in hell, even if his life was full of only good deeds?
May peace be upon you. Unlike other religions, Islam is quite nice according to this point. By the way, according to most religions a person who follows that religion will go to Paradise and a person who doesn't follow it will go to hell. For example according to Christianity, a person who believes in the three key beliefs of Christianity will gain salvation. No matter whatever bad deeds the person does! And a person who doesn't believe in those three will go to hell. No matter whatever good deeds the person does! Similarly in Judaism, a person who is the servant of Yehovah and is a Jew will go to paradise others wont.
But Islam is amazingly beneficent towards humanity. In Islam you wont go to hell if:
- You are a good Muslim. In Islam there is no free-salvation type thing. You will have to do good if you want to go to paradise. And if you are bad deeds-doer then you will be thrown into hell fire for the duration in which your sins are compensated.
- If you had never heard of Islam! You as God wishes will not be thrown into fire.
- You were an infant when you died. No matter whether you were child of a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, a Sikh etc. you won't be thrown to fire.
- You died a disbeliever while you were in quest to become a believer! I mean you were puzzled by the religions of the world. You were searching the truth. You were doing your best to find a straight path which guides you to your Lord. But you died and during your quest and couldn't find the truth. (A side note to people who are puzzled like I was once in search of the true religion. Don't follow anybody! You know your Lord loves you very much from whatever sect or religion you are! Just say: Oh Lord! I am searching for you. In all this net of religions where every religion claims to be the best, every religion claims that it is from You, every religion has got good and bad people. I am unable to know which one is Yours! Every religion frightens me from following any second religion and I can't follow all religions at a time! I am looking for you, show me Your path! By all this I mean give yourself to Lord and He will guide you because He loves you. And He will grant you more than many others because You really found Him while others just believed Him! And if God directed you towards the path and you knowingly discarded it then He may get angry with you and punish you more than others because you knew and refrained while others didn't know and refrained!)
You were a nice man and weren't a Muslim! Here come again two conditions:
- If you were rewarded in this world then You may not get chance over there! Every penny you spend on welfare of people or for good of any creature of God you will be rewarded. Either here or there. If you are rewarded here then you may not expect there.
- You weren't rewarded here then indeed you will be rewarded there. Your punishment may be reduced.
You were a monothiest and didn't term any one as the participant of God in His divinity and His kingdom. Then may be God forgive you cause He has said that He might forgive one He wants to unless he/she has not sought partners for God. A quote from Hadith in Bukhari is:
The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whoever said "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a barley grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said: "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a wheat grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of an atom will be taken out of Hell."
- And the last one. God knows the best! He may forgive any one. No one can ask Him why did You forgive him!
A Logical Proof:
As far Jannah is concerned for a very good, virtuous man then I would say that Jannah depends not upon his spending money for welfare of people. Doing good with creature of God is rewarded by The Creator. But it is never compulsory that he will be rewarded with Jannah. God gives rewards by different methods. Then what takes some body to Jannah? I want to give a simple example. (Don't worry! These are just prep level arithmetics! haha.) I give you two ones(1 and 1) and tell you to make out 2 out of these two ones. Then obviously you would do 1+1=2. You can never get 2 from just using one 1. For Jannah there are two things. First is belief that there is no God except Allah and there is no divine being except God. Second is doing good deeds.
Now belief+good deeds = Jannah. Just belief or just good deeds can't take you to Jannah! As using single one gives you just 1 e.g. 1+0=1 or 0+1=1. You could also neglect both and do 0+0=0. 1 is never 2. And 1 is never 0 as well. It means 1 is greater than 0 and smaller that 2 which is target. But the one whose answer is 0 is very far from 2 and is equal to 0 which shouldn't have been! Similarly belief+0=goodness or good deeds+0=goodness or neither goodness+nor belief = hell. I used goodness because belief and good deeds are both goodness. Now none is equal to Jannah. But goodness is greater than hell and lower than Jannah. As you can't expect 2 from just one 1 similarly you shouldn't expect Jannah from one of the two. As using a single 1 gives you some thing near to 2 similarly one of the belief and good deeds gives you some relief but which is less than Jannah and is somewhat soothing than others! While having none gives you the severest hell fire!
Have a nice here and hereafter and always do quest for truth until you find it, Jule!
Traditional scholarship tend to have this opinion that anyone who is not a Muslim, doesn't have any chance at salvation. However, IMHO this opinion stems from a misconception that Islam started with Muhammad and only a person who follows this brand of Islam has a chance at salvation.
Quran negates this concept. It emphasizes that titles or relation with a certain sect is not a basis of salvation. It gives the example of Abraham, by saying that he was neither a so called "Muslim", a "Christian" or a "Jew" but was a true believer.
Islam according to my understanding is not a separate religion per se, but a continuation of all that was revealed before. As far as Quran is concerned, 'Muslim' is not a title. A person despite belonging to any of the above groups would be a Muslim if he performs the act of submission. It doesn’t limit salvation to any group but lays down 3 criterion in Al-Baqarah:62.
- belief in God,
- belief in the Day of Judgment,
- and righteous action in life
Now all that being said, what about those people who still miss on some of the above criterion? For example, Agnostics, Polytheists, Atheists, etc. Do they have no chance at salvation?
To answer this, we have to rely on our common sense, natural law, and sense of justice. When Quran speaks about Justice, it’s not speaking of it in sense that is alien to us. It talks about justice exactly how we under what justice is. If somebody is unable to fathom or understand to his satisfaction any of the above defined criteria, his case rest with Allah. Since Allah proclaims that he is Just, he would stay true to the requirements of Justice as we know it in this world. If somebody have valid reasons, and justice demands that he be pardoned, He would do it. Similarly, somebody despite fulfilling the above criteria may miss out on salvation if he commits a heinous crime, e.g., killing someone unlawfully, rejecting a true prophet even after realizing that he is true.
A major problem that I find with most traditional understandings is that they tend to adopt a very strict opinion from the word go. And when that opinion doesn’t fit our sense of justice in certain valid situations, exceptions are introduced to the original opinion. I don’t mean to offend any one but simply want to point out the answer given above by @RehanUllah as an example of introducing such exceptions.
From the translation Muhammad Asad:
(2:62) VERILY, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians  - all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds - shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve. 
-  The above passage - which recurs in the Qur'an several times - lays down a fundamental doctrine of Islam. With a breadth of vision unparalleled in any other religious faith, the idea of "salvation" is here made conditional upon three elements only: belief in God, belief in the Day of Judgment, and righteous action in life. The statement of this doctrine at this juncture - that is, in the midst of an appeal to the children of Israel - is warranted by the false Jewish belief that their descent from Abraham entitles them to be regarded as "God's chosen people".
Another scholar Javed Ahmed Ghamdi has emphasized the same fact in his book Meezan, which is in Urdu. I am pasting a link to an article (in English) written by one of his colleague from his website. http://www.javedahmadghamidi.com/renaissance/view/will-christians-enter-paradise-or-go-to-hell