Praise be to Allaah.
What is meant by the words “[they] never did anything good”
is that they did not do any righteous deeds apart from believing and
affirming in their hearts. These people either died before they were able
to act, so they believed and then died before they were able to do
anything, so in that case it is true to say that they never did anything
Or this hadeeth is to be understood in the light of other
hadeeths which indicate that forsaking some righteous deeds constitutes
kufr, such as prayer, so the one who does not pray is a kaafir even if he
claims to believe in Allah and His Messenger. The kaafir will not be
benefited by the intercession of any of those who intercede on the Day of
Resurrection; he will abide in Hell for ever and ever -- Allah forbid.
The point is that this hadeeth either applies to people who
believe but were not able to do any righteous deeds as they died straight
after they believed, so they never did anything good;
Or it is general in meaning but an exception is made with
regard to matters which the shar‘i texts state are essential, such as prayer
-- so the one who does not pray is a kaafir who will not benefit from
intercession and will not be brought out from Hell. End quote.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him)
Fataawa al-‘Aqeedah, p. 526