Shaad Hamid

Oxford SEO and PPC Consultant/Blogger

December 14, 2013
by Shaad Hamid
1 Comment

Ultimate success – the qualities of the believers from Surah Mu’minoon and Surah Furqan

Assalamu alaikum warahmathullahi wabarakathahu!

This post is dedicated to the seeker. The one who is seeking guidance to a path that is not crooked nor leads astray. The path that will lead you to your Lord and all that He promises.

Glad tidings to you, for your Lord has revealed qualities and characteristics that will lead you toward your ultimate success.

This post will list the 6 qualities that a believer possesses as mentioned by Allah (swt) in Surah Mu’minoon (the believers) and the 12 qualities that Allah (swt) mentions in Surah Furqan (the criterion).

Most or all of us will be falling short in one or more of the qualities. May we identify where we need to make improvements and may Allah grant us the gift of implementing these qualities into our lives.

Qualities of the believers - Surah mu’minoon

  1. when they are in salah they pray with full Kushoo (complete focus, concentration and humbleness – they feel that they stand before their Lord while in prayer)
  2. they avoid vain talk (anything that does not add any value to their lives in this world or the next – such as gossip, back-biting, lewd and indecent conversation etc.)
  3. they are active in doing zakah (notice here that the emphasis is on doing zakah as opposed to giving zakah? So the implication is that these people (the believers) don’t just give charity when asked, but they are proactive in searching for people in their localities or within their own families to help. This could also mean people using their God given talents for the service of mankind, such as volunteer doctors who use their own money, their skills and expertise, to help as many underprivileged patients as they can, or the lawyer who helps as many people fight injustice pro bono etc.)
  4. they protect their private parts. They don’t commit fornication or adultery or go anywhere near fahsha (lewdness) or anything that would lead toward zina.
  5. they keep their promises and trusts (if they say they will meet you at a certain location at 5pm, they will meet you at that location at 5pm and not 5.01pm. Also they can be trusted with your wealth and belongings).
  6. And finally: they strictly guard their 5 daily prayers (notice how Allah comes back to salah? The first quality refers to Khushoo or the quality of your salah, here Allah refers to the number or the quantity of the salah. So these people protect their daily salah no matter what).

And Allah promises these people that they will be the ones who will inherit Jannah and they will dwell therein forever! What a beautiful reward? Alhamdulillah!

My dearest reader, please note down the above six qualities and ask yourself in which areas do you need further improvements in? Insha’Allah let’s work toward rectifying this and make small but daily improvements in at least one area that we are lacking.

Now let us move on to the qualities of the believers in Surah Furqan

1. They walk on the earth in humility

2. When the ignorant address them with harsh words they respond with peace (Salam)

3. They spend their nights in adoration of Allah in prayer.

4. Those who make the following dua:

(Surah furqan:65-66) the nearest meaning – “our Lord! Avert from us the wrath of hell, for its wrath is indeed an affliction grievous. Evil indeed is it as an abode, and as a place to rest in.” (Dear reader, I would like you to keep this dua at the back of your mind, I’ll come back to this in a bit insha’Allah).

5. When they spend, they are not extravagant and are not stingy but hold a balance between these extremes.

6. They do not invoke anyone other god or deity (they don’t commit shirk).

7. They don’t kill innocent people.

8. They don’t  commit fornication (and adultery).

9. They don’t witness falsehood (I.e. they don’t give false witness, they don’t lie and they don’t help with anything that implies fraud, cheating or falsehood).

10. When people are engaged with vain talk, bad jokes, useless show etc. they don’t walk away in an arrogant or fussy fashion but they withdraw from such people in a dignified and honourable way.

11. Those when they are admonished with Allah’s signs they don’t ignore the message or act as if they are deaf or blind but are those who take heed.

12. Those who make the following dua:

(Surah furqan:74) nearest meaning “our Lord! Grant unto us spouses and offspring who will be the coolness of our eyes, and make us leaders of the pious”.

Allah Rabbul Izzath summarises with the following -

“Those (the ones who have the above qualities) are the ones who will be rewarded with the highest place in heaven (Jannathul Firdous) because of their patient constancy: there they will be met with salutations and peace. Dwelling therein – how beautiful an abode and place of rest” (Surah Furqan:75-76)

Dearest reader, remember I asked you to keep the first of the two duas mentioned here in mind? Please go back to it (point number 4 above) and have a quick read. What does the believer ask protection from and how does he/she describe hell? He says it is a place evil to rest in. Now what does Allah say these people will get as a reward? Allah says they will get Jannathul Firdous and how does Allah describe Jannah as? He says how beautiful an abode and place of rest :)

Alhamdulilah!

May we strive to implement each of these qualities into our lives and May we be able to inculcate all of them before we die so we meet our Lord saying “ya Allah we have heard and we obeyed!”

May Allah grant us hidaya and sabr in order to be this person that Allah talks about in both Surah Furqan and Surah Mu’minoon.

Ameen!

Barakallahu lee wa lakum fil quranil kareem

Wa nafa’nee wa iyyakum bil aayaati wa dhikril hakeem

Innahu jawaadun malikun barrun rabbur ra’oofur raheem

May Allah bless me and you through the guidance of this noble Quran

And may its teachings and remembrances benefit me and you

Truly Allah is the possessor of wealth, the sovereign,  the all good, the one who has authority and power over us,  the loving and infinitely-merciful.

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December 7, 2013
by Shaad Hamid
3 Comments

To the broken hearted, meek and the weak

This post is dedicated to the broken hearted, the soft-hearted, the meek and the weak… It is from the heart to the heart. If you are in pain, I urge you to say Alhamdulillahi ala kulli haal – we praise and thank Allah in every situation. With eyes filled with tears, look toward your Rabb and say with sincerity ‘Alhamdulillahi ala kulli haal’.

This is the first step in knowing and understanding the mercy of your Lord. Whatever you’re going through, know that this was never meant to miss you. This trial or test that you’re experiencing right now has already been ordained over billions of years ago (even before the universe was created). The pen is dry, so don’t despair. If Allah has decreed this upon you, know that you have the strength to overcome it. Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bear.

Whenever you feel sad, I invite you to read Surah Duha (the 93rd surah).. This is a Surah that was revealed to console our dear beloved nabi-e-kareem sallallahu alaihi wasallam (sal) at a time when he was feeling a similar emotion to what you’re feeling right now. The context to the surah was that Allah (swt) withheld waheeh (revelation) for a period of time which gave the unbelievers enough time to taunt and hurl abuse at our nabi (sal). The wife of Abu Lahab who was an Aunt of our Holy Prophet (sal) and whose house adjoined his said ”It appears your satan has forsaken you.” Nauzhubillah!

The taunting of the people our Nabi (sal) can bear, but the withholding of revelation from Allah distressed him. Many thoughts came to his mubarak mind that made him extremely sorrowful. In all the chaos, the struggle and the strife, his only source of strength was Allah. When revelation was delayed, our Nabi felt sad and alone. Does this situation somehow sound familiar to you? Do you feel alone, lost and hopeless? Sometimes do you feel as though Allah hates you or that He may be angry with you?

My dearest reader, Allah Rabbul Izzathi wal Jalal consoled our Nabi (sal), and through him, all of us..

1. By the glorious morning light

It’s not all doom and gloom.. There is sunshine, there is light, there is beauty. In other words, look at the bright-side dear brother/sister*.

2. And by the night when it is still (or darkens)

Is your worrying and sadness keeping you from falling asleep at night? Know that when the night is still or at its darkest, that’s when you will find Allah closest to you, so despair not*.

3. Your Lord has neither forsaken you nor hated you.

Do you think Allah hates you? Do you think that what you’re going through is somehow a punishment? Know that Allah does not hate His servants nor does He ever forsake those who seek Him.*

4. And indeed the Hereafter is better for you than the present (life of this world).

Whatever you’re going through, know that it is very brief. The nature of this world is that it is temporary. This will pass. Soon this too shall pass. But the life of the hereafter is eternal. Indeed, rejoice that the hereafter is far more greater than what you can imagine, so despair not and don’t be sad!*

5. And very soon your Lord will give you, and you will be pleased.

Be patient my dearest brother/sister, very soon Allah will replace your sorrow with good; and He promises you that you will be satisfied with what He gives you. And the promise of Allah is true!*

6. Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter and care?

Dear reader, notice how the first 5 verses of this beautiful surah is about hope? It’s not all doom and gloom because there’s sunshine, and when the night is darkest you will find Allah near, the hereafter is far greater than this life, so don’t sweat the small stuff (i.e. everything in this life is small stuff), very soon Allah will compensate for you something that you will be super duper happy with. All of these are to do with hope. Now Allah diverts your attention toward what He has already done for you. Here in verse number 6, although the reference is directly to our Nabi (sal), have we not experienced some form of abandonment in our lives? Maybe someone dear to you died, maybe you left your family and friends and lived abroad with no one for support or comfort. In those times that you felt you have no one, who do you think was looking out for you? Dearest reader, know that it was Allah who was sheltering you all along. So what makes you think He will forsake you now?*

7. And He found you lost and guided you

At one point weren’t you also lost, wandering with no guidance (hidaya)? Has He not blessed you today with guidance?*

8. And He found you poor and made you self-sufficient.

 At one point in your life you were dependant on others, maybe you didn’t even have money for food, but today has he not made you self sufficient? Who was it that brought you to where you are now?

Therefore, dear reader, count your blessings and be grateful to your Lord for all that He has already blessed you with*.

Now Allah tells us what we can do by action to help rid our sadness (instead of moping around feeling helpless):

9. Therefore, don’t treat the orphan with oppression or harshness

In other words, look after the orphans, be good to them and look after their needs. In a hadith our nabi (sal) was asked by a man what he could do to soften his hard heart. Our nabi-e-kareem (sal) replied “Be merciful with the orphan, pat his head and feed him from what you eat. This will soften your heart, and enable you to get what you need.” [At-Tabarani & As-Silsilah as-Sahihah] What is it that you want? Peace and contentment? Happiness? Freedom from oppression? Then go ahead, look after the orphan!*

10. And as for the one who requests for your assistance (and help) do not repel him;

Don’t ignore the ones who are in need of help. Always look to help those in distress, it could be the aunt you never get along with, or the cousin who gets on your nerves; but if they are in need and you know they are in need and you are in a position to help them then go out of your way to help them. Not for them, but because Allah told you so. By the action of helping others, you will find solace and comfort and also Allah will go out of His way to help you when you need Him the most*.

11. But as for the blessings and gifts (ni’mah) of your Lord, proclaim it.

In this state of sadness, make sure you verbalise all the good Allah has done for you. Most often in our counsel with friends and loved ones we go into negative mode and only talk or focus on the negatives, plunging us deeper into despair. Instead Allah commands you to verbalise (proclaim) all His favours and gifts that He has given you. This is the ultimate deed that will deflate the feeling of sorrow and despair*.

Alhamdulillahi Rabbil A’alameen!

*And Allah knows best.

Let’s recap the lessons in this surah:

  1. Stay hopeful for Allah’s help and good times are near
  2. Remind yourself of all the times Allah took you out of difficulty in the past
  3. Don’t just sit there moping around, but go out of your way to help those in need
  4. And finally, proclaim the praises and thanks to Allah
Let me end by sharing an email I sent out to a couple of people who were feeling sad due to a temporary condition of mine, I sincerely hope that this will be of some help to you too:

Alhamdulillahi ala kulli haal
(we praise and thank Allah in every situation)

Allah is al-Jabbar the one who restores all things to its original form and who fixes all that is broken. Will He then not mend my broken heart?

I have complete trust and faith in Him that He will not only restore but will grant me something better.. He is Kareem (the most generous) al-Latheef (the gentle and kind) and he is al-Wahhab (the one who loves to constantly give gifts) so why should I feel sad?

Our Allah is the most loving (wadood), the bestest friend forever (al Wali), the greatest protector (Mawla) and the one who immediately responds to the call of the Caller (Mujeeb).
I know He’s got my back :-)

Allahul musta’aan! Allah is the one whom help is sought! 

I rejoice because my Allah is the one who split the ocean for Moosa Alaihissalam, cooled the fire for Ibraheem Alaihissalam, let the sleepers sleep for over 300 years in the cave, sent down angels from the heavens to fight at Badr etc.. I rejoice because my Allah never forsakes those who seek Him.. I also thank Allah that not only has He taught us His most beautiful names, but He is letting me experience His attributes first-hand also and so I rejoice!

SubhanAllahi wabihamdihi SubhanAllahil Aleem
Allahumma salli ala sayyidina Muhammad wa’ala Aali Seyyiduna Muhammad kama sallaiytha Ala seyyiduna Ibraheema wa’ala Ale Seyyiduna Ibraheema innaka hamidum majeed…

Ya Rahman, Ya Raheem, Ya Kareem, Ya Latheef, Ya Fatthahu, Ya Mujeebu, Ya Allah! Please grant peace and contentment to all those suffering in silence across the globe!

Ya Fatthahu! Ease our paths and open new and better doors for us.

Ya Mujeeb! Fix and restore our broken hearts.

Ya Mawla! Take away our sorrows and ease our burdens. Make us depend on you and only you so we become unbreakable, because your handhold is unbreakable.

Ya Wali! May we find true happiness only through you so we become unconquerable, because you can never be conquered Ya Allah!

Ya Quddus! Ya Salam! Ya Noor! Illuminate our hearts with your light so we will never become empty, because you are the source light, source of peace and fulfilment. Your light never diminishes and your support never ends.

Ya Kareem, Ya Raheem Ya Allah! Make the broken hearted, the meek, the weak and the sad, inheritors of all that you have promised!

Allahumma Ameen!

Barakallahu lee wa lakum fil quranil kareem

Wa nafa’nee wa iyyakum bil aayaati wa dhikril hakeem

Innahu jawaadun malikun barrun rabbur ra’oofur raheem

May Allah bless me and you through the guidance of this noble Quran

And may its teachings and remembrances benefit me and you

Truly Allah is the possessor of wealth, the sovereign,  the all good, the one who has authority and power over us,  the loving and infinitely-merciful.

Image credit: topislamicwallpapers.com

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November 28, 2013
by Shaad Hamid
1 Comment

20 Digital Marketing Trends for 2014

  1. It’s almost 2014 and we’re all convinced of the value of mobile as a key channel in a user’s multi-screen and multi-channel journey.  However, deployment and implementation has still been slow due to various reasons (lack of expertise, budget, and inability to prove ROI etc.). But with increased levels of mobile penetration, and Matt Cutts estimating that mobile searches on Google are set to surpase desktop search volumes next year, I expect 2014 to really be the year of deployment.
  2. Mobile specific marketing strategies will be a core customer acquisition channel, especially for local and small businesses.
  3. We will see the lines of paid search and organic search blur. We are seeing this already, but in 2014 Google will enable more and more bidding options in order to win ‘moments that matter’ (think location or proximity bidding when people are searching closer to your store, or when people search outside an airport etc., device bidding, app promotions etc.).
  4. Last year I predicted Google will get better at understanding complex questions (Hummingbird). This will mean websites will need to be user focused in terms of content strategy. Content will need to fall under the following stages of the buying cycle: problem recognition, solution comparison, supplier comparison and validation. If you won’t supply this information to your users, someone else will.
  5. Other major search engines will move to ‘secure search’ making a keyword-less world a reality. SEOs in particular will be forced to use paid search advertising, first entry page analysis and multi touch attribution in order to prove value.
  6. With deeper smartphone penetration, email marketing will continue to be an important customer nurturing channel. Far from being dead, the channel will continue to grow and thrive. What will be dead though is ‘batch and blast’ emails.
  7. We’ll see best-in-class organisations go beyond understanding their customers from purely demographic data to unifying their view of customer behaviour. Organisations will need to go beyond their CRM systems to mine data from sources such as accounting and order processing systems in order to unify their view of their customer.
  8. HTML5 becomes mainstream. Switching to HTML5 won’t be as easy for many organisations. But this will move from a fad to ‘mainstream’ in 2014.
  9. Linkbuilding will merge alongside PR and creative, making asset creation the only viable linkbuilding method to provide long lasting results.
  10. Perception of visual content (video, image, custom illustrations, illustrative animation, and infographics) will change among marketers from “it’s a ‘nice-to-have’ marketing collateral”, to a key strategy in acquiring and increasing customer engagement and influence within target audiences.
  11. With the increase in devices that content is consumed, websites designed in 2014 will largely incorporate ‘responsive web design’.
  12. Users will continue to have contradicting needs. On the one hand, they want personalised and customised service and product offerings, but on the other, will be increasingly uncomfortable over the amount of personal data being mined.
  13. More and more companies begin to dedicate a greater proportion of their marketing budgets towards going beyond online contact-level web analytics to incorporating important off-site social behaviours. Marketers will begin to make a greater effort to place estimates of digital impact in proper proportion and context of broader marketing strategy and the market environment.
  14. Marketing teams, typically in slower moving industries, will graduate from digital experimentation (via pilot tests) into actually defining their digital marketing strategy.
  15. Marketing teams that have gone further than that will look to approach the more sophisticated tasks of aligning and integrating activities across organizational siloes to deliver a more cumulative impact on their audience.
  16. We all know that increased digital marketing efforts demand continuous and collective management, something few companies are designed to support at this point in time. The value destroyed by this misfit approach—although hard to quantify—is potentially very large. Several companies will be looking to take steps to restructure internal teams as a result.
  17. Companies looking to make structural changes will begin to look for individuals who can take ownership in executing processes and bringing the following disparate functions together: paid search, online community, corporate website, advertising, social media and blogging, and SEO.
  18. There will be an increased push for social marketing among businesses. Companies will look to align their brands with social causes.
  19. Facebook will start to get serious about search in 2014. They will find a way to personalise entity search with social interactions thereby providing an ‘alternative search engine’ based around ‘friend recommendations’.
  20. And finally, television advertising is far from dead. On the contrary, television ads will begin to incorporate more and more social integration. Television advertising will also incorporate “second screen experiences”, where a TV programme’s tablet app, mobile app, and even discussions will be promoted and encouraged on social media platforms. Content creators will need to create assets that can live across multiple screens seamlessly.

What are your predictions for 2014? Feel free to share your thoughts within the comments below.

Enhanced by ZemantaImage credit: One Way Stock
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December 28, 2012
by Shaad Hamid
1 Comment

Is Google testing and cherry picking rich snippets?

I’m not entirely sure if this is something new, but I’m seeing Google display weird listings on the SERPs lately. OK let me try and be a bit more specific. I was manually monitoring rankings for a website I’m helping out with and noticed they were ranking on the first page today (for their most competitive keyword phrase). What was weird was that the site’s set up the following schema on the same page:

  • authorship,
  • ratings, and
  • location schema,

Before today Google would usually override all other rich snippets opting to only display authorship on the SERPs. Sadly I don’t have a screen-grab of how wedding belles photography used to render on the SERPs, but this is how it appears when using the Structured Data Testing Tool.

Continue reading “Is Google testing and cherry picking rich snippets?” »

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November 22, 2012
by Shaad Hamid
4 Comments

Add your own private contact details about XXX – New Google Plus feature?

I was browsing the interwebs a few hours ago and thought I’d pop over to Google Plus. While there, I did my bit of +1ing stuff that I found interesting, commented on +Richard Fergie’s post and called Kevin Gibbons a legend (as you do) on a Google plus post :)

Anyway, I digress…

I was going through Kevin’s Google plus profile page and found something I’d never seen before!

Continue reading “Add your own private contact details about XXX – New Google Plus feature?” »

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November 9, 2012
by Shaad Hamid
4 Comments

Agent/author rank and overall importance of authorship

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw an email sitting in my inbox by a member of my readership, Ruwanthi (hi Ruwanthi!  :-) many thanks for your email!). Among many other great content ideas she threw at me, I was asked to touch upon Google’s author/agent rank. So I thought I’d quickly put together a list of some awesome resources that’ll help you get a better understanding of what it is, why it matters, how it will impact web documents along with a quick guide to setting up authorship tags on your blogs or websites.

So, let’s start at the beginning shall we? We can’t really talk about authorship and it’s importance without reading and understanding the patent titled “agent rank”. Click here to access the original patent document. You can also find the latest continuation patent here.

Continue reading “Agent/author rank and overall importance of authorship” »

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November 7, 2012
by Shalini Seneviratne
4 Comments

One Young World – four days that changed my life

Paul Polman, Unilever CEO with Shalini Seneviratne

With the CEO of Unilever himself

As clichéd as it may sound, returning from One Young World Summit 2012, I feel different, my life has definitely changed. One Young World (OYW) is an annual summit that brings together young people from around the world to discuss, debate, and work towards finding solutions to global issues. This year the summit for the third consecutive year was held in Pittsburgh, USA and saw an attendance of over 1300 delegates from 183 countries. OYW is the largest youth gathering outside of the Olympics. As a Sri Lankan representing my country and Unilever, the esteemed organization I work for, this prestigious occasion was an honour beyond belief. The premise of OYW is simple, yet colossal – give young leaders of tomorrow a platform to gather together and change the world for the better. The summit focused on 5 key topics: education, sustainable development, leadership & governance, global health, and human rights.

Continue reading “One Young World – four days that changed my life” »

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October 17, 2012
by Shaad Hamid
0 comments

Facebook advertising isn’t the same as search advertising

A few of days ago, I received an email with a link to the BBC investigation on Facebook ads. The gentleman wanted to find out my opinion on the story and if there was any value in running Facebook ads; after all, Facebook ads seem to have a higher than normal bounce rate than other acquisition channels and with the BBC “investigation”, the ineffectiveness of Facebook advertising should be confirmed, right?

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October 4, 2012
by Shaad Hamid
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Another Facebook Rumour Doing the Rounds

This is a very quick post. Just seen the following status update posted by a very close friend of mine:

Warning -any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other “picture” art posted on my profile. You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee, agent, student or any personnel under your direction or control the contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE

For those of you who do not understand the reasoning behind this posting, Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. Unless you state otherwise, anyone can infringe on your right to privacy once you post to this site. It is recommended that you and other members post a similar notice as this, or you may copy and paste this version. If you do not post such a statement once, then you are indirectly allowing public use of items such as your photos and the information contained

Just wanted to make some clarifications before this goes mental on people’s feeds again.

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September 29, 2012
by Shaad Hamid
0 comments

How to ask effective questions

Global City Innovative College students inside...

Global City Innovative College students inside the school library. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a learning environment, like OCVC, questions are vital. Lecturers need to ask the right questions which allow their students to express their ideas. Students can demonstrate their abilities or make an impression with a good question. A question can be a beginning. Here are some suggestions of what can make good ones.

1. Good questions need inspiration. The good question might not be the first one that comes to you, or the one that sounds obvious to you. Be creative. Paint pictures with a question. Open doors with what you ask.

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