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Tour & Travel

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MENUNAIKAN HAJI, ANTARA SUNNAH ATAU TRADISI LINGKUNGAN

Banyak tradisi berkembang di masyarakat yang mengiringi orang yang hendak menunaikan ibadah haji. Sebagai ibadah yang membutuhkan pengorbanan besar, seyogyanya kita jangan sampai melakukan amalan yang bisa merusak ibadah haji ini. Yang pasti, ibadah haji harus dilakukan di atas niat yang tulus yaitu untuk mengharap balasan dari Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala semata dan dijalankan di atas tuntunan Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

Rambu-rambu Penting dalam Beribadah
Manusia adalah satu-satunya makhluk Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala yang menyatakan diri siap memikul “amanat berat” yang tidak dimampui oleh makhluk-makhluk besar seperti langit, bumi, dan gunung-gunung. Padahal makhluk yang bernama manusia ini berjati diri zhalum (amat dzalim) dan jahul (amat bodoh). Amanat itu adalah menjalankan segala apa yang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala perintahkan dan menjauhi segala apa yang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala haramkan (beribadah kepada-Nya). Sebagaimana dalam firman-Nya:

إِِنَّا عَرَضْنَا اْلأََمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَاْلأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا اْلإِنْسَانُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُوْمًا جَهُوْلاً

“Sesungguhnya Kami telah tawarkan amanat kepada langit, bumi, dan gunung-gunung, maka semuanya enggan untuk memikul amanat itu karena khawatir akan mengkhianatinya, dan dipikullah amanat itu oleh manusia. Sesungguhnya manusia itu amat dzalim dan amat bodoh.” (Al-Ahzab: 72)

Asy-Syaikh Abdurrahman bin Nashir As-Sa’di rahimahullah berkata:
“Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala mengangkat permasalahan amanat yang Dia amanatkan kepada para mukallafiin. Yaitu amanat menjalankan segala yang diperintahkan dan menjauhi segala yang diharamkan, baik dalam keadaan tampak maupun tidak. Dia tawarkan amanat itu kepada makhluk-makhluk besar; langit, bumi dan gunung-gunung sebagai tawaran pilihan bukan keharusan, ‘Bila engkau menjalankan dan melaksanakannya niscaya bagimu pahala, dan bila tidak, niscaya kamu akan dihukum’. Maka makhluk-makhluk itu pun enggan untuk memikulnya karena khawatir akan mengkhianatinya, bukan karena menentang Rabb mereka dan bukan pula karena tidak butuh akan pahala-Nya. Kemudian Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala menawarkannya kepada manusia, maka ia pun siap menerima amanat itu dan memikulnya dengan segala kedzaliman dan kebodohan yang melekat pada dirinya. Maka amanat berat itu pun akhirnya berada di pundaknya.” (Taisirul Karimir Rahman, hal. 620)

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala Yang Maha Pengasih lagi Maha Penyayang, Yang Maha Kuasa lagi Maha Bijaksana, tidaklah membiarkan manusia mengarungi kehidupannya dengan memikul amanat berat tanpa bimbingan Ilahi. Maka Dia pun mengutus para Rasul sebagai pembimbing mereka dan menurunkan Kitab Suci agar berpegang teguh dengannya serta mengambil petunjuk darinya. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala berfirman:

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ اْلكِتَابَ وَالْمِيْزَانَ لِيَقُوْمَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ

“Sungguh Kami telah mengutus Rasul-rasul Kami dengan membawa bukti-bukti yang nyata, dan Kami turunkan bersama mereka Kitab Suci dan neraca (keadilan) supaya manusia dapat melaksanakan keadilan.” (Al-Hadid: 25)

Maka dari itu, jalan untuk beribadah kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala amatlah jelas dan terang, termasuk ibadah haji. Karena semuanya telah tercakup dalam Al-Qur`an dan Sunnah Nabi shallallah ‘alaihi wa sallam. Adapun rambu-rambu penting dalam beribadah yang dikandung Al-Qur`an dan Sunnah Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam tersebut, semuanya bermuara pada dua perkara penting:

1. Mengikhlaskan ibadah hanya untuk Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala semata.
2. Mengikuti tuntunan dan jejak Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

Dua perkara tersebut merupakan pangkal kesuksesan dalam kehidupan di dunia dan juga di akhirat.
Al-Imam Ibnul Qayyim rahimahullahu berkata:
“Barangsiapa yang memerhatikan kondisi alam ini, niscaya ia akan mengetahui bahwasanya sebab dari semua kebaikan yang ada di muka bumi ini adalah beribadah hanya kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala semata (tauhidullah) dan taat kepada Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Sedangkan sebab dari kerusakan, fitnah, bala`, paceklik, dan kekalahan dari musuh adalah menyelisihi Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam dan menyeru kepada selain jalan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala dan Rasul-Nya.” (Bada`i’ul Fawa`id, 3/17)

Bahkan keduanya merupakan barometer, apakah sebuah ibadah yang dilakukan seseorang diterima di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala ataukah ditolak.

Asy-Syaikh Muhammad bin Shalih Al-‘Utsaimin berkata:
“Sebuah ibadah tidak bisa untuk bertaqarrub kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, bahkan tidak diterima oleh-Nya kecuali dengan dua syarat:

1. Ikhlas karena Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, dengan mempersembahkan ibadah tersebut semata-mata mengharap wajah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala dan kebahagian di negeri akhirat, tanpa ada niatan mengharap pujian dan sanjungan manusia.
2. Mengikuti (tuntunan) Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam dalam beribadah, baik dalam hal ucapan atau pun perbuatan.

Mengikuti (tuntunan) Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam tidaklah mungkin terealisasi dengan baik kecuali dengan mengetahui Sunnah (ajaran) Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Oleh karena itu, siapapun yang berkeinginan untuk mengikuti Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam maka dia harus mempelajari Sunnah (ajaran) Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam tersebut dari para ulama yang mumpuni. Bisa dengan berkoresponden ataupun dengan berkomunikasi secara langsung. Dan merupakan kewajiban bagi para ulama, sang pewaris Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, untuk menerapkan (terlebih dahulu, pen.) Sunnah beliau shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam dalam ibadah, akhlak, dan muamalah mereka. Kemudian berupaya untuk menyampaikan Sunnah Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam tersebut kepada umat agar kehidupan mereka terwarnai dengan warisan beliau shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam baik dalam bentuk ilmu, amal perbuatan, dan dakwah. Sehingga mereka termasuk orang-orang sukses yang beriman kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, beramal shalih, dan saling berwasiat dengan kebenaran dan kesabaran.” (Al-Manhaj Limuridil ‘Umrah wal Hajj)

Asy-Syaikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab rahimahullahu berkata:
“Jika kebahagiaan umat terdahulu dan yang akan datang dikarenakan mengikuti jejak para Rasul, maka dapatlah diketahui bahwa orang yang paling berbahagia adalah yang paling berilmu tentang ajaran para Rasul dan paling mengikutinya. Maka dari itu, orang yang paling mengerti tentang sabda para Rasul dan amalan-amalannya serta benar-benar mengikutinya, mereka itulah sesungguhnya orang yang paling berbahagia di setiap masa dan tempat. Dan merekalah golongan yang selamat dalam setiap agama (yang dibawa para Rasul tersebut, pen.). Dan dari umat ini adalah Ahlus Sunnah wal Hadits.” (Ad-Durar As-Saniyyah, juz 2, hal. 21)

Al-Imam Malik rahimahullahu berkata:
“Barangsiapa mengada-adakan perkara baru dalam agama (bid’ah) yang dia pandang itu adalah baik, sungguh ia telah menuduh bahwa Nabi Muhammad shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam telah berkhianat terhadap risalah (yang beliau emban). Karena Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala berfirman (artinya): “Pada hari ini telah Kusempurnakan agama bagi kalian, dan Aku telah lengkapkan nikmat-Ku atas kalian dan Aku ridha Islam sebagai agama kalian.” Atas dasar ini, segala perkara yang pada waktu itu (yakni di masa Nabi/para shahabat) bukan bagian dari agama, maka pada hari ini pula perkara itu bukan termasuk agama.” (Al-I’tisham, 1/49)

Ibadah Haji dan Keutamaannya
Para pembaca yang mulia, di antara sekian bentuk ketaatan (ibadah) yang paling utama dan sarana bertaqarrub kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala yang termulia adalah ibadah haji. Bahkan ia termasuk ibadah yang Allah  wajibkan, dan termasuk salah satu dari rukun Islam. Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam bersabda:

بُنِيَ اْلإِسْلاَمُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ: شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لاّ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ، وَإِقَامِ الصَّلاَةِ، وَإِيْتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ، وَصِيَامِ رَمَضَانَ، وَحَجِّ الْبَيْتِ

“Agama Islam dibangun di atas lima perkara; bersyahadat bahwasanya tidak ada yang berhak diibadahi kecuali Allah dan Nabi Muhammad itu utusan Allah, mendirikan shalat, menunaikan zakat, shaum di bulan Ramadhan, dan berhaji ke Baitullah.” (HR. Al-Bukhari no. 8 dan Muslim no. 16, dari shahabat Abdullah bin Umar radhiyallahu ‘anhuma)

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala menyeru para hamba-Nya untuk berhaji melalui lisan Nabiyullah Ibrahim ‘alaihissalam, agar para hamba dapat menyaksikan segala yang bermanfaat bagi kebaikan hidup dunia dan akhirat mereka. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala berfirman:

وَأَذِّنْ فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوْكَ رِجَالاً وَعَلَىكُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِيْنَ مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيْقٍ لِِيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ

“Dan umumkanlah kepada manusia untuk berhaji, niscaya mereka akan mendatangimu dengan berjalan kaki atau mengendarai unta kurus dari segala penjuru yang jauh untuk menyaksikan segala yang bermanfaat bagi mereka.” (Al-Hajj: 27-28)

Sebagaimana pula Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala telah mengingatkan orang-orang yang mampu berhaji agar mereka mempersembahkan ibadah hajinya hanya untuk-Nya semata. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala berfirman:

وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ البَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيْلاً وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِيْنَ

“Dan hanya karena Allahlah haji ke Baitullah itu diwajibkan bagi manusia yang mampu mengadakan perjalanan ke sana. Barangsiapa yang kafir maka sesungguhnya Allah tidak butuh terhadap seluruh alam semesta.” (Ali ‘Imran: 97)

Junjungan kita Nabi besar Muhammad shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam juga mendorong umatnya untuk menunaikan ibadah yang mulia ini. Sebagaimana sabda beliau shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، إِنَّ اللهَ كَتَبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْحَجَّ. فَقَامَ اْلأَقْرَعُ بْنُ حَابِسٍ فَقَالَ: أَفِي كُلِّ عَامٍ يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ؟ قَالَ: لَوْ قُلْتُهَا لَوَجَبَتْ، وَلَوْ وُجِبَتْ لَمْ تَعْمَلُوا بِهَا وَلَمْ تَسْتَطِيْعُوا أَنْ تَعْمَلُوا بِهَا، الْحَجُّ مَرَّةً، فَمَنْ زَادَ فَتَطَوَّعَ

“Wahai sekalian manusia, sesungguhnya Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala telah mewajibkan kepada kalian ibadah haji!” Maka berdirilah Al-Aqra’ bin Habis seraya mengatakan: “Apakah haji itu wajib ditunaikan setiap tahun, ya Rasulullah?” Maka beliau shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam pun menjawab: “Kalau aku katakan; ya, niscaya akan menjadi kewajiban setiap tahun. Dan bila diwajibkan setiap tahun, niscaya kalian tidak akan menunaikannya, bahkan tidak akan mampu untuk menunaikannya. Kewajiban haji itu hanya sekali (seumur hidup). Barangsiapa menunaikannya lebih dari sekali, maka dia telah bertathawwu’ (melakukan perbuatan sunnah).” (HR. Abu Dawud, An-Nasa`i, Ad-Darimi, Ad-Daraquthni, Al-Hakim dan Ahmad, dari shahabat Abdullah bin Abbas radhiyallahu ‘anhuma. Lihat Irwa`ul Ghalil, karya Asy-Syaikh Al-Albani juz 4 hal. 149-150)

Bahkan beliau shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam menjelaskan akan pahalanya yang besar, ganjarannya yang banyak dan sebagai penebus bagi segala dosa. Sebagaimana sabda beliau shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam:

مَنْ حَجَّ لِلَّهِ فَلَمْ يَرْفُثْ وَلَمْ يَفْسُقْ رَجَعَ كَيَوْمٍ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ

“Barangsiapa berhaji karena Allah lalu tidak berbuat keji dan kefasikan (dalam hajinya tersebut), niscaya dia pulang dari ibadah tersebut seperti di hari ketika dilahirkan oleh ibunya (bersih dari dosa).” (HR Al-Bukhari dalam Shahih-nya no. 1521 dan Muslim no. 1350, dari shahabat Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu ‘anhu)

الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا، وَالْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةَ

“Antara satu umrah dengan umrah berikutnya merupakan penebus dosa-dosa yang ada di antara keduanya, dan haji mabrur itu tidak ada balasan baginya kecuali Al-Jannah.” (HR Muslim no. 1349, dari shahabat Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu ‘anhu)

Kewajiban Menunaikan Ibadah Haji dengan penuh Keikhlasan

Syaikhul Islam Ibnu Taimiyyah berkata:

“Setiap jamaah haji berkewajiban untuk memurnikan niat hajinya karena Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala dan untuk bertaqarrub kepada-Nya semata. Sebagaimana pula harus berhati-hati dari tujuan duniawi, berbangga diri, mengejar gelar/sebutan (pak haji/bu haji, pen.), ingin dilihat orang atau mencari pamor. Karena semua itu dapat membatalkan amalan (haji anda, pen.) dan menjadikannya tidak diterima di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.” (Lihat Taudhihul Ahkam, juz 4 hal. 3-4)

Hal senada disampaikan Asy-Syaikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz rahimahullah. Beliau berkata:
“Merupakan suatu kewajiban atas seorang yang berhaji untuk meniatkan haji dan umrahnya karena Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala dan mengharapkan kebahagiaan di negeri akhirat serta meniatkannya untuk bertaqarrub kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala dengan segala perkataan dan perbuatan yang diharapkan dapat mendatangkan ridha-Nya di tempat-tempat yang mulia tersebut. Dan hendaknya selalu waspada dari tujuan duniawi, riya` (ingin dilihat orang), mencari pamor, dan untuk gagah-gagahan semata. Karena ini merupakan sejelek-jelek niatan dan termasuk sebab tertolaknya suatu amalan.” (At-Tahqiq wal Idhah Lil-Katsir Min Masa`ilil Hajji wal ‘Umrah, hal.12)

Kewajiban Menunaikan Ibadah Haji sesuai Sunnah Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam
Perjalanan suci menuju Baitullah membutuhkan bekal yang cukup. Di samping bekal harta, ilmu pun merupakan bekal yang mutlak dibutuhkan. Dengan ilmu lah, seseorang menjadi terbimbing dalam melakukan ibadah hajinya dan sesuai dengan Sunnah (tuntunan) Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Lebih dari itu, akan terhindar dari berbagai macam bid’ah dan kesalahan, sehingga hajinya pun sebagai haji mabrur yang tiada balasan baginya kecuali Al-Jannah.

Dalam momentum hajjatul wada’ (haji terakhir), Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam pernah menyampaikan pesan khusus kepada umatnya, agar mereka menunaikan ibadah haji sesuai dengan tuntunan manasik beliau shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Beliau shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam bersabda:

خُذُوا عَنِّي مَنَاسِكَكُمْ

“Ambillah dariku tuntunan manasik haji kalian.” (HR. Muslim no. 1297)

Para shahabat pun sangat memerhatikan pesan beliau ini. Tak heran, jika banyak didapati berbagai riwayat tentang manasik haji yang mereka jalani bersama Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Demikian pula para ulama, tidak sedikit dari mereka yang menyusun kitab-kitab tentang manasik haji baik yang detail atau pun yang sederhana. Semua itu menggambarkan kepada kita bahwasanya para pendahulu umat ini telah mempersembahkan untuk kita ilmu tentang manasik haji, agar kita dapat berhaji sesuai dengan Sunnah Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

Maka dari itu, di antara nasehat yang selalu disampaikan para ulama kita kepada calon jamaah haji adalah; hendaknya mereka serius untuk mempelajari dan mendalami ilmu (tuntunan) manasik haji sebelum menunaikannya, dengan satu harapan agar ibadah haji yang ditunaikannya benar-benar sempurna dan diterima di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

Asy-Syaikh Muhammad Nashiruddin Al-Albani berkata:
“Kami nasehatkan kepada calon jamaah haji, agar belajar terlebih dahulu tentang manasik haji yang dituntunkan di dalam Al-Qur`an dan Sunnah Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam sebelum menunaikan ibadah hajinya. Sehingga amalan haji yang ditunaikannya itu benar-benar sempurna dan diterima di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.” (Hajjatun Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, hal. 10)

Asy-Syaikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz berkata:
“Sudah seharusnya bagi seseorang yang hendak berhaji untuk mempelajari dan mendalami segala yang disyariatkan tentang haji dan umrahnya. Dan hendaknya dia juga menanyakan hal-hal yang belum dipahaminya (kepada seorang yang berilmu, pen.) agar ibadah haji yang ditunaikannya benar-benar di atas bashirah (ilmu).” (At-Tahqiq wal Idhah, hal. 13)

Fenomena Taqlid dan Mengikuti Tradisi dalam Berhaji
Para pembaca yang mulia, bila kita memerhatikan sekian kesalahan yang terjadi pada kebanyakan jamaah haji, maka penyebabnya bermuara pada dua faktor:
1. Faktor dari dalam
2. Faktor dari luar

Faktor dari dalam adalah penyebab yang berasal dari diri jamaah haji itu sendiri. Hal ini terjadi manakala seorang jamaah haji mengabaikan bekal ilmu yang hakikatnya merupakan bekal utama yang harus dia persiapkan. Tentunya, ketika bekal ilmu tidak dimiliki maka manasik hajinya pun jauh dari manasik haji Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Dia akan lebih cenderung mengikuti manasik haji yang dilakukan oleh mayoritas orang (tradisi) di sekitarnya. Padahal apa yang dilakukan oleh mayoritas orang itu belum tentu sesuai dengan tuntunan manasik Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Permasalahan pun semakin runyam manakala di antara jamaah haji itu ada yang berkeyakinan bahwasanya mengikuti manasik haji/ tradisi yang biasa dilakukan mayoritas orang itu merupakan jaminan kebenaran.

Asy-Syaikh Shalih bin Fauzan Al-Fauzan berkata:
“Di antara masalah (yang terjadi di masa, pen.) jahiliyyah adalah bahwasanya mereka mengukur suatu kebenaran dengan jumlah mayoritas, dan menilai suatu kesalahan dengan jumlah minoritas. Sehingga sesuatu yang diikuti oleh kebanyakan orang berarti benar, sedangkan yang diikuti oleh segelintir orang berarti salah. Inilah patokan yang ada pada diri mereka dalam menilai yang benar dan yang salah. Padahal patokan ini keliru, karena Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala berfirman:

وَإِنْ تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَنْ فِي اْلأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوْكَ عَنْ سَبِيْلِ اللهِ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُوْنَ إِلاَّ الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُم إِلاَّ يَخْرُصُوْنَ

“Dan jika kamu menuruti mayoritas orang-orang yang ada di muka bumi ini, niscaya mereka akan menyesatkanmu dari jalan Allah. Mereka tidak lain hanyalah mengikuti persangkaan belaka, dan mereka tidak lain hanyalah berdusta (terhadap Allah).” (Al-An’am: 116)

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala juga berfirman:

وَلكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لاَ يَعْلَمُوْنَ

“Tetapi mayoritas manusia tidak mengetahui.” (Al-A’raf: 187)

وَمَا وَجَدْنَا لأَكْثَرِهِمْ مِنْ عَهْدٍ وَإِنْ وَجَدْنَا أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَفَاسِقُوْنَ

“Dan Kami tidak mendapati mayoritas mereka memenuhi janji. Sesungguhnya Kami mendapati mayoritas mereka orang-orang yang fasik.” (Al-A’raf: 102)

Dan lain sebagainya.” (Syarh Masa`il Al-Jahiliyyah, hal. 60)

Asy-Syaikh Sulaiman bin Abdullah Alusy-Syaikh berkata
: “Dalam hadits ini1 terdapat bantahan terhadap orang yang berdalih dengan hukum mayoritas, dan beranggapan bahwa kebenaran itu selalu bersama mereka. Tidaklah demikian adanya. Bahkan yang semestinya adalah mengikuti Al-Qur`an dan As-Sunnah bersama siapa saja dan di mana saja.” (Taisir Al-‘Azizil Hamid, hal.106).

Asy-Syaikh Abdurrahman bin Hasan Alusy-Syaikh berkata:
“Hendaknya seorang muslim berhati-hati agar tidak tertipu dengan jumlah mayoritas, karena telah banyak orang-orang yang tertipu (dengannya). Termasuk orang-orang yang mengaku berilmu sekalipun. Mereka berkeyakinan di dalam beragama sebagaimana yang diyakini oleh orang-orang bodoh lagi sesat (mengikuti mayoritas manusia, pen.) dan tidak mau melihat kepada apa yang dikatakan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala dan Rasul-Nya.” (Qurratu ‘Uyunil Muwahhidin, dinukil dari ta’liq kitab Fathul Majid, hal. 83, no. 1)

Para pembaca, dengan demikian “budaya” ngikut tradisi atau ngikut mayoritas orang dalam beribadah kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (termasuk dalam menunaikan ibadah haji), tidak bisa dibenarkan dalam syariat Islam. Oleh karena itu, sudah saatnya bagi umat Islam untuk berupaya meniti jejak Rasulullah shallallhu ‘alaihi wa sallam dalam segala amal ibadahnya, agar apa yang dipersembahkan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala tersebut tidak sia-sia bahkan tercatat sebagai amalan shalih.

Adapun faktor penyebab dari luar adalah adanya orang-orang yang mudah berfatwa tentang urusan agama (termasuk masalah haji) tanpa ilmu.

Asy-Syaikh Muhammad bin Shalih Al-‘Utsaimin rahimahullah berkata:
“Sebagian kaum muslimin –semoga Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala memberikan hidayah dan taufiq-Nya kepada mereka– melakukan banyak perkara ibadah tanpa berasaskan Kitabullah dan Sunnah Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Terlebih dalam masalah haji, yang seringkali penyebabnya adalah adanya orang-orang yang mudah berfatwa tanpa ilmu, serta saling berlomba untuk mengeluarkan fatwa demi meraih pujian dan popularitas. Sehingga terjadilah kesesatan dan penyesatan (terhadap umat).” –Hingga perkataan beliau–: “Kebanyakan kesalahan yang terjadi pada jamaah haji berpangkal dari sini (yakni; fatwa tanpa ilmu) dan saling meniru di antara mereka (orang-orang awam) tanpa ada kejelasan dalilnya.” (Akh-tha`un Yartakibuha Ba’dhul Hujjaj)

Maka dari itu, kami serukan kepada segenap jamaah haji untuk benar-benar selektif dalam memilih guru pembimbing haji. Carilah guru pembimbing yang berilmu dan berpegang teguh dengan Kitabullah dan Sunnah Rasulullah shallallhu ‘alaihi wa sallam, agar haji yang anda lakukan tergolong haji mabrur.

Sebagaimana pula kami serukan kepada segenap jamaah haji agar menjauhi sikap taqlid buta dalam beribadah, termasuk ketika berhaji. Baik taqlid buta terhadap tradisi, ormas, partai, atau pun tokoh/panutan/ustadz/kyai, dsb. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala mencela sikap taqlid buta dalam beberapa ayat-Nya dan menjelaskan kepada kita bahwasanya sikap taqlid buta itu merupakan kebiasaan kaum musyrikin2 ketika dakwah para nabi sampai kepada mereka. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala berfirman:

أَمْ آتَيْنَاهُمْ كِتَابًا مِنْ قَبْلِهِ فَهُمْ بِهِ مُسْتَمْسِكُوْنَ. بَلْ قَالُوا إِنَّا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا عَلَى أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَى آثَارِهِمْ مُهْتَدُونَ

“Apakah seandainya telah kami datangkan kepada mereka sebuah kitab (hujjah) sebelum munculnya kesyirikan yang mereka lakukan, kemudian mereka mau berpegang dengannya? Ternyata justru mereka berkata: “Sesungguhnya kami telah mendapati nenek moyang kami di atas sebuah prinsip (aqidah yang mereka yakini), maka kami adalah orang-orang yang mendapat petunjuk dengan mengikuti jejak pendahulu kami.” (Az-Zukhruf: 21-22)

Para imam yang empat sendiri, tidak menganjurkan murid-muridnya dan segenap kaum muslimin untuk taqlid buta kepada mereka. Bahkan mereka berpesan agar umat ini kembali kepada Kitabullah dan Sunnah Rasul-Nya yang shahih. Berikut ini kami bawakan beberapa nukilan dari perkataan mereka yang terdapat dalam kitab Shifat Shalat Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam karya Asy-Syaikh Al-Albani (hal. 46-53):

    Al-Imam Abu Hanifah rahimahullah mengatakan:

“Tidak halal bagi siapa pun mengambil pendapat kami tanpa mengetahui dari mana dasar hujjah yang kami ambil.” Dalam riwayat lainnya, beliau mengatakan: “Haram bagi siapa pun yang tidak mengetahui dalil yang saya pakai, untuk berfatwa dengan pendapat saya. Karena sesungguhnya kami adalah manusia, pendapat yang sekarang kami ucapkan, mungkin besok kami rujuk darinya (kami tinggalkan pendapat tersebut).”

    Al-Imam Malik rahimahullah mengatakan:

“Saya hanyalah manusia biasa yang mungkin salah dan mungkin benar. Maka telitilah pendapatku, apabila sesuai dengan Al-Qur`an dan As-Sunnah maka ambillah. Dan apabila tidak sesuai dengan keduanya maka tinggalkanlah.”

    Al-Imam Asy-Syafi’i rahimahullah mengatakan:

“Semua permasalahan yang sudah disebutkan dalam hadits Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam yang shahih dan berbeda dengan pendapat saya, maka saya rujuk dari pendapat tersebut baik ketika saya masih hidup atau pun meninggal dunia.”

    Al-Imam Ahmad rahimahullah mengatakan:

“Janganlah kalian taqlid kepadaku dan jangan pula taqlid kepada Malik, Asy-Syafi’i, Al-Auza’i, atau (Sufyan) Ats-Tsauri. Akan tetapi ambillah (dalil) dari mana mereka mengambil.”

Penutup

Para pembaca yang mulia, setelah kita lalui beberapa bahasan di atas maka dapatlah disimpulkan:

    Sebuah ibadah akan diterima di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala manakala terpenuhi dua syarat; ikhlas hanya karena Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala semata, dan sesuai dengan tuntunan Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
    Ibadah haji merupakan jenis ketaatan yang utama dan salah satu bentuk taqarrub yang termulia. Karena itu haruslah dipersembahkan untuk Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala semata, tanpa diiringi niatan duniawi, mencari nama, gelar, pamor, dan lain sebagainya.
    Perjalanan ke tanah suci sangat membutuhkan bekal ilmu. Karena dengan ilmulah, seseorang akan terbimbing dalam melakukan ibadah hajinya sesuai dengan tuntunan Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Lebih dari itu, akan terhindar dari berbagai macam bid’ah dan kesalahan sehingga hajinya pun sebagai haji mabrur yang tiada balasan baginya kecuali Al-Jannah.
    Seseorang yang akan menunaikan ibadah haji hendaknya mencari guru pembimbing yang berilmu lagi berpegang-teguh dengan Kitabullah dan Sunnah Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, agar haji yang ditunaikannya benar-benar di atas ilmu dan bashirah.
    Sikap ikut-ikutan dalam beribadah (termasuk ketika berhaji) merupakan perbuatan tercela. Demikian pula sikap taqlid buta terhadap tradisi, ormas, partai, atau pun tokoh/panutan/ustadz/kyai dan lain sebagainya.
    Para imam yang empat; Abu Hanifah, Malik, Asy-Syafi’i dan Ahmad telah bersepakat agar umat Islam kembali/merujuk kepada Sunnah Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam yang shahih di dalam menjalankan agamanya. Sebagaimana pula mereka telah bersepakat agar umat Islam meninggalkan pendapat mereka manakala tidak sesuai dengan Sunnah Nabi shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam yang shahih. Mudah-mudahan hidayah dan taufiq Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala selalu mengiringi kita semua, amin.

Wallahul Muwaffiq wal Hadi ila aqwamit thariq.
1. Yakni sabda Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam:

عُرِضَتْ عَلَيَّ اْلأُمَمُ، فَرَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ وَمَعَهُ الرَّهْطُ، وَالنَّبِيَّ وَمعَهُ الرَّجُلُ وَالرَّجُلاَنِ، وَالنَّبِيَّ وَلَيْسَ مَعَهُ أَحَدٌ ....

“Telah ditampakkan kepadaku umat-umat, maka aku melihat seorang nabi bersamanya kurang dari 10 orang, seorang nabi bersamanya satu atau dua orang, dan seorang nabi tidak ada seorang pun yang bersamanya….” (HR. Al-Bukhari no. 5705, 5752, dan Muslim no. 220, dari hadits Abdullah bin ‘Abbas radhiyallahu ‘anhuma)
2.  Perlu diingat, bukan berarti orang yang bertaqlid itu dihukumi sebagai musyrik.

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    saco-indonesia.com,

    cinta yang tulus dalam hatiku
    membuang hasrat mimpiku
    tuk bisa menyatakan sayang
    tuk bisa mengungkapkan semua
    pada dirimu

    tak mungkin bagiku tuk memilikimu
    segala rasa yang pasti tak mungkin
    tuk bisa kau terima semua
    tuk bisa kunyatakan rasa
    kucinta kamu

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    dan dunia tak mungkin berputar lagi
    saat cinta tak membakar hati ini
    kau kan tahu betapa aku mencintaimu
    betapa aku menginginkan kamu

    tak mungkin bagiku tuk memilikimu
    segala rasa yang pasti tak mungkin
    tuk bisa kau terima semua
    tuk bisa kunyatakan rasa
    kucinta kamu

    back to reff: [2x]

    betapa aku menginginkan kamu


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> UNGU WAKTU YANG DINANTI

*** 7 FADHILLAH SHALAT DHUHA ***


*** 7 FADHILLAH SHALAT DHUHA ***


Pertama,
Shalat Dhuha merupakan ekspresi terima kasih kita kepada Allah SWT atas nikmat sehat bugarnya setiap sendi dalam tubuh kita.

Kedua,
Shalat Dhuha merupakan wahana pengharapan kita akan rahmat dan nikmat Allah Swt. sepanjang hari yang akan dilalui, entah berupa nikmat fisik maupun materi.

Ketiga,
Shalat Dhuha sebagai pelindung untuk menangkal siksa api neraka di hari pembalasan (kiamat) nanti.

Keempat,
Bagi orang yang merutinkan shalat Dhuha, niscaya Allah mengganjarnya dengan balasan surga.

Kelima,
Pahala shalat Dhuha setara dengan pahala ibadah haji dan umrah.

Keenam,
Tercukupinya kebutuhan hidup. Orang yang gemar melaksanakan shalat Dhuha ikhlas karena Allah akan tercukupi rezekinya.

Ketujuh,
Memperoleh ghanimah (keuntungan) yang besar.


Masih ada waktu Yuk yg blm mendawamkannya.
Semoga kita bisa Istiqomah.
Wassalamu Alaikum Wr Wb

> *** 7 FADHILLAH SHALAT DHUHA ***

SA'I DAN UMROH

 Tawaf
Tawaf adalah suatu ritual mengelilingi ka’bah (bangunan suci di makkah) sebanyak tujuh kali dan sebagai bagian dari pelaksanaan ibadah umroh ataupun haji.
Syarat-syarat untuk melaksanakan tawaf.
1.      Suci dari hadast
2.      Suci badan/pakaian dan tempat tawaf dari najis.
3.      Menutup aurot
4.      Bermula pada sudut Al-Hajarul aswad dab berniat tawaf (tawaf wada’,sunat,nazar).
5.      Menjadikan baitullah berada di sebelah kiri dan berjalan ke hadapan (berlawanan dengan jarum jam).
6.      Berjalan dengan niat dan tujuan tawaf bukan untuk bertujuan lain.
7.      Cukup 7 kali mengelilingi dengan yakin.
8.      Dilakukan di dalam masjidil haram dan di luar hijir ismail / syazarwan.

Macam-macam dari thawaf, yang antara lain :
1.      Tawaf rukun
2.      Tawaf Qudum (selamat datang)
3.      Tawaf wada’ (selamat tinggal)
4.      Tawaf sunat
5.      Tawaf nazar

Adapun beberapa sunah-sunah tawaf diantaranya :
1.      Berjalan kaki
2.      Berittiba’ bagi tawaf diiringi dengan sa’i (laki-laki)
3.      Melakukan ramal (berlari-lari kecil) bagi tawaf yang diiringi dengan sa’i (laki-laki).
4.      Istilam hajarul aswad dan mengucapnya / istilam rukun yamani dan tidak mengucupnya
5.      Membaca doa dan dzikir
6.      Berturut-turut 7 kali keliling
7.      Tawaf dengan khusyuk/ Tawadhuk.
8.      Sembahyang sunat tawaf

SA’I
Sa’i merupakan salah satu rukun umroh dan haji yang dilakukan dengan berjalan kaki (berlari-lari kecil) bolak-balik sebanyak 7 kali dari Bukit Shafa menuju ke Bukit Marwah sebanyak 7 kali. Kedua bukit satu sama lainnya yang berjarak sekitar 405 meter. Ketika melintasi Bathnul waadi yaitu kawasan yang letaknya di antar bukit shafa dan bukit marwah (saat ini di tandai dengan lampu yang berwarna hijau), para jama’ah pria di sunnatkan untuk berlari-lari kecil dan sedangkan untuk untuk jama’ah wanita berjalan cepat. Ibadah sa’i diperbolehkan di lakukan dalam keadaan tidak berwudhu dan oleh wanita yang datang haid. Maksud sari melaksanakan sa’i adalah untuk memperingati pencarian air oleh siti hajar dan kemurahan Allah dalam mengabulkan doa-doa.
Sa’i adalah pencarian. Kenapa sa’i diartikan sebagai pencarian ? karena sa’i menceritakan siti hajar yang mencari air untuk putranya yaitu nabi ismail AS, dari Bukit Shafa menuju ke Bukit Marwah.


 


HIKMAH SESUDAH MELAKSANAKAN IBADAH HAJI DAN UMROH.
Ibadah haji dan umroh merupakan rukun iman yang ke lima. Banyak hikmah yang terkandung di dalamnya, karena ibadah umroh dan haji adalah wujud kesadaran barin dan kecerdasan rasio.
Setiap orang yang telah melaksanakan ibadah umroh maupun haji pasti punya pengalaman spiritual yang berbeda antar jama’ah satu dengan jama’ah yang lainnya. Dan bahkan ada juga yang tak masuk akal atau di luar perkiraan.
Adapun hikmah sesudah melaksanakan haji dan umroh selengkapnya yang antara lain :

> SA'I DAN UMROH

MENGUNJUNGI MAKAN RASULULLAH

 

Salah satu impian ke tanah suci selain umrah dan naik haji adalah berkunjung ke makam Nabi Muhammad Saw yang terletak di bagian depan sisi kiri masjid Nabawi, bersebelahan dengan Raudhah.

Ucapkan salam dengan lembut dan santun karena beliau Nabi Muhammad SAW mendengar dan bahkan menjawab salam kita.

السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

Dalam berbagai hadits riwayat Imam Bukhori, Abu Hurairah dll, banyak disebut bahwa mayit bisa mendengar dan menjawab salam yang menziyarahinya.

Bahkan Rasulullah seakan berdialog dengan para jenazah tokoh-tokoh kafir Quraisy dalam perang Badar,
“Wahai Abu Jahal Bin Hisyam,wahai Umayah Bin Khalaf,wahai Utbah Bin Rabi’ah,wahai Syaibah Bin Rabi’ah,apakah kalian telah mendapati bahwa janji Allah itu benar? Aku mendapati bahwa janji Rabb-ku kepadaku itu benar.”

Ya Rasulullah, salam cinta dari kami umatmu dari Indonesia, yang hidup terpisah ribuan tahun darimu, yg hidup ribuan kilometer dari tanahmu. Kami ingat bibirmu berbisik lirih, “Ummati.. ummati..” , bahkan hingga detik terakhir ajalmu masih mengingat dan memikirkan kami, umatmu.

Kami sadar, mencintamu bukan sekedar mengucap dan mengingatmu. Mencintamu adalah dengan mengikuti teladanmu dalam hidup kami, teladanmu dalam beribadah kpd Allah, teladan akhlakmu yg amat mulia, teladan baktimu kepada umat manusia.

Semoga kami dapat istiqomah dan husnul khatimah, diwafatkan dalam keadaan taqwa dan penuh bekal, dan semoga Allah berkenan mentaqdirkan kita berjumpa kelak di syurgaNya..

“Dan barang siapa yang menaati Allah dan Rasul (Nya), mereka itu akan bersama-sama dengan orang-orang yang dianugerahi nikmat oleh Allah, yaitu Nabi-nabi, para shiddiiqiin, orang-orang yang mati syahid dan orang-orang shaleh. Dan mereka itulah teman yang sebaik-baiknya…”

QS. An-Nisaa (4) : 69-70

Sumber : http://www.gemashafamarwa.com

Baca Artikel Lainnya : UMRAH PLUS WISATA MUSLIM

 

> MENGUNJUNGI MAKAN RASULULLAH

Sid Tepper Dies at 96; Delivered ‘Red Roses for a Blue Lady’ and Other Songs

Mr. Tepper was not a musical child and had no formal training, but he grew up to write both lyrics and tunes, trading off duties with the other member of the team, Roy C. Bennett.

Sid Tepper Dies at 96; Delivered ‘Red Roses for a Blue Lady’ and Other Songs | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Jozef Paczynski, Inmate Barber to Auschwitz Commandant, Dies at 95

Mr. Paczynski was one of the concentration camp’s longest surviving inmates and served as the personal barber to its Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss.

Jozef Paczynski, Inmate Barber to Auschwitz Commandant, Dies at 95 | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Dave Goldberg Was Lifelong Women’s Advocate

Even as a high school student, Dave Goldberg was urging female classmates to speak up. As a young dot-com executive, he had one girlfriend after another, but fell hard for a driven friend named Sheryl Sandberg, pining after her for years. After they wed, Mr. Goldberg pushed her to negotiate hard for high compensation and arranged his schedule so that he could be home with their children when she was traveling for work.

Mr. Goldberg, who died unexpectedly on Friday, was a genial, 47-year-old Silicon Valley entrepreneur who built his latest company, SurveyMonkey, from a modest enterprise to one recently valued by investors at $2 billion. But he was also perhaps the signature male feminist of his era: the first major chief executive in memory to spur his wife to become as successful in business as he was, and an essential figure in “Lean In,” Ms. Sandberg’s blockbuster guide to female achievement.

Over the weekend, even strangers were shocked at his death, both because of his relatively young age and because they knew of him as the living, breathing, car-pooling center of a new philosophy of two-career marriage.

“They were very much the role models for what this next generation wants to grapple with,” said Debora L. Spar, the president of Barnard College. In a 2011 commencement speech there, Ms. Sandberg told the graduates that whom they married would be their most important career decision.

In the play “The Heidi Chronicles,” revived on Broadway this spring, a male character who is the founder of a media company says that “I don’t want to come home to an A-plus,” explaining that his ambitions require him to marry an unthreatening helpmeet. Mr. Goldberg grew up to hold the opposite view, starting with his upbringing in progressive Minneapolis circles where “there was woman power in every aspect of our lives,” Jeffrey Dachis, a childhood friend, said in an interview.

The Goldberg parents read “The Feminine Mystique” together — in fact, Mr. Goldberg’s father introduced it to his wife, according to Ms. Sandberg’s book. In 1976, Paula Goldberg helped found a nonprofit to aid children with disabilities. Her husband, Mel, a law professor who taught at night, made the family breakfast at home.

Later, when Dave Goldberg was in high school and his prom date, Jill Chessen, stayed silent in a politics class, he chastised her afterward. He said, “You need to speak up,” Ms. Chessen recalled in an interview. “They need to hear your voice.”

Years later, when Karin Gilford, an early employee at Launch Media, Mr. Goldberg’s digital music company, became a mother, he knew exactly what to do. He kept giving her challenging assignments, she recalled, but also let her work from home one day a week. After Yahoo acquired Launch, Mr. Goldberg became known for distributing roses to all the women in the office on Valentine’s Day.

Ms. Sandberg, who often describes herself as bossy-in-a-good-way, enchanted him when they became friendly in the mid-1990s. He “was smitten with her,” Ms. Chessen remembered. Ms. Sandberg was dating someone else, but Mr. Goldberg still hung around, even helping her and her then-boyfriend move, recalled Bob Roback, a friend and co-founder of Launch. When they finally married in 2004, friends remember thinking how similar the two were, and that the qualities that might have made Ms. Sandberg intimidating to some men drew Mr. Goldberg to her even more.

Over the next decade, Mr. Goldberg and Ms. Sandberg pioneered new ways of capturing information online, had a son and then a daughter, became immensely wealthy, and hashed out their who-does-what-in-this-marriage issues. Mr. Goldberg’s commute from the Bay Area to Los Angeles became a strain, so he relocated, later joking that he “lost the coin flip” of where they would live. He paid the bills, she planned the birthday parties, and both often left their offices at 5:30 so they could eat dinner with their children before resuming work afterward.

Friends in Silicon Valley say they were careful to conduct their careers separately, politely refusing when outsiders would ask one about the other’s work: Ms. Sandberg’s role building Facebook into an information and advertising powerhouse, and Mr. Goldberg at SurveyMonkey, which made polling faster and cheaper. But privately, their work was intertwined. He often began statements to his team with the phrase “Well, Sheryl said” sharing her business advice. He counseled her, too, starting with her salary negotiations with Mark Zuckerberg.

“I wanted Mark to really feel he stretched to get Sheryl, because she was worth it,” Mr. Goldberg explained in a 2013 “60 Minutes” interview, his Minnesota accent and his smile intact as he offered a rare peek of the intersection of marriage and money at the top of corporate life.

 

 

While his wife grew increasingly outspoken about women’s advancement, Mr. Goldberg quietly advised the men in the office on family and partnership matters, an associate said. Six out of 16 members of SurveyMonkey’s management team are female, an almost unheard-of ratio among Silicon Valley “unicorns,” or companies valued at over $1 billion.

When Mellody Hobson, a friend and finance executive, wrote a chapter of “Lean In” about women of color for the college edition of the book, Mr. Goldberg gave her feedback on the draft, a clue to his deep involvement. He joked with Ms. Hobson that she was too long-winded, like Ms. Sandberg, but aside from that, he said he loved the chapter, she said in an interview.

By then, Mr. Goldberg was a figure of fascination who inspired a “where can I get one of those?” reaction among many of the women who had read the best seller “Lean In.” Some lamented that Ms. Sandberg’s advice hinged too much on marrying a Dave Goldberg, who was humble enough to plan around his wife, attentive enough to worry about which shoes his young daughter would wear, and rich enough to help pay for the help that made the family’s balancing act manageable.

Now that he is gone, and Ms. Sandberg goes from being half of a celebrated partnership to perhaps the business world’s most prominent single mother, the pages of “Lean In” carry a new sting of loss.

“We are never at 50-50 at any given moment — perfect equality is hard to define or sustain — but we allow the pendulum to swing back and forth between us,” she wrote in 2013, adding that they were looking forward to raising teenagers together.

“Fortunately, I have Dave to figure it out with me,” she wrote.

Dave Goldberg Was Lifelong Women’s Advocate | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

The Uphill Battle to Better Regulate Formaldehyde

WASHINGTON — A decade after emergency trailers meant to shelter Hurricane Katrina victims instead caused burning eyes, sore throats and other more serious ailments, the Environmental Protection Agency is on the verge of regulating the culprit: formaldehyde, a chemical that can be found in commonplace things like clothes and furniture.

But an unusual assortment of players, including furniture makers, the Chinese government, Republicans from states with a large base of furniture manufacturing and even some Democrats who championed early regulatory efforts, have questioned the E.P.A. proposal. The sustained opposition has held sway, as the agency is now preparing to ease key testing requirements before it releases the landmark federal health standard.

The E.P.A.’s five-year effort to adopt this rule offers another example of how industry opposition can delay and hamper attempts by the federal government to issue regulations, even to control substances known to be harmful to human health.

Continue reading the main story
 

Document: The Formaldehyde Fight

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that can also cause respiratory ailments like asthma, but the potential of long-term exposure to cause cancers like myeloid leukemia is less well understood.

The E.P.A.’s decision would be the first time that the federal government has regulated formaldehyde inside most American homes.

“The stakes are high for public health,” said Tom Neltner, senior adviser for regulatory affairs at the National Center for Healthy Housing, who has closely monitored the debate over the rules. “What we can’t have here is an outcome that fails to confront the health threat we all know exists.”

The proposal would not ban formaldehyde — commonly used as an ingredient in wood glue in furniture and flooring — but it would impose rules that prevent dangerous levels of the chemical’s vapors from those products, and would set testing standards to ensure that products sold in the United States comply with those limits. The debate has sharpened in the face of growing concern about the safety of formaldehyde-treated flooring imported from Asia, especially China.

What is certain is that a lot of money is at stake: American companies sell billions of dollars’ worth of wood products each year that contain formaldehyde, and some argue that the proposed regulation would impose unfair costs and restrictions.

Determined to block the agency’s rule as proposed, these industry players have turned to the White House, members of Congress and top E.P.A. officials, pressing them to roll back the testing requirements in particular, calling them redundant and too expensive.

“There are potentially over a million manufacturing jobs that will be impacted if the proposed rule is finalized without changes,” wrote Bill Perdue, the chief lobbyist at the American Home Furnishings Alliance, a leading critic of the testing requirements in the proposed regulation, in one letter to the E.P.A.

Industry opposition helped create an odd alignment of forces working to thwart the rule. The White House moved to strike out key aspects of the proposal. Subsequent appeals for more changes were voiced by players as varied as Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, and Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, as well as furniture industry lobbyists.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 helped ignite the public debate over formaldehyde, after the deadly storm destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes along the Gulf of Mexico, forcing families into temporary trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The displaced storm victims quickly began reporting respiratory problems, burning eyes and other issues, and tests then confirmed high levels of formaldehyde fumes leaking into the air inside the trailers, which in many cases had been hastily constructed.

Public health advocates petitioned the E.P.A. to issue limits on formaldehyde in building materials and furniture used in homes, given that limits already existed for exposure in workplaces. But three years after the storm, only California had issued such limits.

Industry groups like the American Chemistry Council have repeatedly challenged the science linking formaldehyde to cancer, a position championed by David Vitter, the Republican senator from Louisiana, who is a major recipient of chemical industry campaign contributions, and whom environmental groups have mockingly nicknamed “Senator Formaldehyde.”

Continue reading the main story

Formaldehyde in Laminate Flooring

In laminate flooring, formaldehyde is used as a bonding agent in the fiberboard (or other composite wood) core layer and may also be used in glues that bind layers together. Concerns were raised in March when certain laminate flooring imported from China was reported to contain levels of formaldehyde far exceeding the limit permitted by California.

Typical

laminate

flooring

CLEAR FINISH LAYER

Often made of melamine resin

PATTERN LAYER

Paper printed to resemble wood,

or a thin wood veneer

GLUE

Layers may be bound using

formaldehyde-based glues

CORE LAYER

Fiberboard or other

composite, formed using

formaldehyde-based adhesives

BASE LAYER

Moisture-resistant vapor barrier

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a common chemical used in many industrial and household products as an adhesive, bonding agent or preservative. It is classified as a volatile organic compound. The term volatile means that, at room temperature, formaldehyde will vaporize, or become a gas. Products made with formaldehyde tend to release this gas into the air. If breathed in large quantities, it may cause health problems.

WHERE IT IS COMMONLY FOUND

POTENTIAL HEALTH RISKS

Pressed-wood and composite wood products

Wallpaper and paints

Spray foam insulation used in construction

Commercial wood floor finishes

Crease-resistant fabrics

In cigarette smoke, or in the fumes from combustion of other materials, including wood, oil and gasoline.

Exposure to formaldehyde in sufficient amounts may cause eye, throat or skin irritation, allergic reactions, and respiratory problems like coughing, wheezing or asthma.

Long-term exposure to high levels has been associated with cancer in humans and laboratory animals.

Exposure to formaldehyde may affect some people more severely than others.

By 2010, public health advocates and some industry groups secured bipartisan support in Congress for legislation that ordered the E.P.A. to issue federal rules that largely mirrored California’s restrictions. At the time, concerns were rising over the growing number of lower-priced furniture imports from Asia that might include contaminated products, while also hurting sales of American-made products.

Maneuvering began almost immediately after the E.P.A. prepared draft rules to formally enact the new standards.

White House records show at least five meetings in mid-2012 with industry executives — kitchen cabinet makers, chemical manufacturers, furniture trade associations and their lobbyists, like Brock R. Landry, of the Venable law firm. These parties, along with Senator Vitter’s office, appealed to top administration officials, asking them to intervene to roll back the E.P.A. proposal.

The White House Office of Management and Budget, which reviews major federal regulations before they are adopted, apparently agreed. After the White House review, the E.P.A. “redlined” many of the estimates of the monetary benefits that would be gained by reductions in related health ailments, like asthma and fertility issues, documents reviewed by The New York Times show.

As a result, the estimated benefit of the proposed rule dropped to $48 million a year, from as much as $278 million a year. The much-reduced amount deeply weakened the agency’s justification for the sometimes costly new testing that would be required under the new rules, a federal official involved in the effort said.

“It’s a redlining blood bath,” said Lisa Heinzerling, a Georgetown University Law School professor and a former E.P.A. official, using the Washington phrase to describe when language is stricken from a proposed rule. “Almost the entire discussion of these potential benefits was excised.”

Senator Vitter’s staff was pleased.

“That’s a huge difference,” said Luke Bolar, a spokesman for Mr. Vitter, of the reduced estimated financial benefits, saying the change was “clearly highlighting more mismanagement” at the E.P.A.

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The review’s outcome galvanized opponents in the furniture industry. They then targeted a provision that mandated new testing of laminated wood, a cheaper alternative to hardwood. (The California standard on which the law was based did not require such testing.)

But E.P.A. scientists had concluded that these laminate products — millions of which are sold annually in the United States — posed a particular risk. They said that when thin layers of wood, also known as laminate or veneer, are added to furniture or flooring in the final stages of manufacturing, the resulting product can generate dangerous levels of fumes from often-used formaldehyde-based glues.

Industry executives, outraged by what they considered an unnecessary and financially burdensome level of testing, turned every lever within reach to get the requirement removed. It would be particularly onerous, they argued, for small manufacturers that would have to repeatedly interrupt their work to do expensive new testing. The E.P.A. estimated that the expanded requirements for laminate products would cost the furniture industry tens of millions of dollars annually, while the industry said that the proposed rule over all would cost its 7,000 American manufacturing facilities over $200 million each year.

“A lot of people don’t seem to appreciate what a lot of these requirements do to a small operation,” said Dick Titus, executive vice president of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, whose members are predominantly small businesses. “A 10-person shop, for example, just really isn’t equipped to handle that type of thing.”

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Becky Gillette wants strong regulation of formaldehyde. Credit Beth Hall for The New York Times

Big industry players also weighed in. Executives from companies including La-Z-Boy, Hooker Furniture and Ashley Furniture all flew to Washington for a series of meetings with the offices of lawmakers including House Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and about a dozen other lawmakers, asking several of them to sign a letter prepared by the industry to press the E.P.A. to back down, according to an industry report describing the lobbying visit.

Within a matter of weeks, two letters — using nearly identical language — were sent by House and Senate lawmakers to the E.P.A. — with the industry group forwarding copies of the letters to the agency as well, and then posting them on its website.

The industry lobbyists also held their own meeting at E.P.A. headquarters, and they urged Jim Jones, who oversaw the rule-making process as the assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, to visit a North Carolina furniture manufacturing plant. According to the trade group, Mr. Jones told them that the visit had “helped the agency shift its thinking” about the rules and how laminated products should be treated.

The resistance was particularly intense from lawmakers like Mr. Wicker of Mississippi, whose state is home to major manufacturing plants owned by Ashley Furniture Industries, the world’s largest furniture maker, and who is one of the biggest recipients in Congress of donations from the industry’s trade association. Asked if the political support played a role, a spokesman for Mr. Wicker replied: “Thousands of Mississippians depend on the furniture manufacturing industry for their livelihoods. Senator Wicker is committed to defending all Mississippians from government overreach.”

Individual companies like Ikea also intervened, as did the Chinese government, which claimed that the new rule would create a “great barrier” to the import of Chinese products because of higher costs.

Perhaps the most surprising objection came from Senator Boxer, of California, a longtime environmental advocate, whose office questioned why the E.P.A.’s rule went further than her home state’s in seeking testing on laminated products. “We did not advocate an outcome, other than safety,” her office said in a statement about why the senator raised concerns. “We said ‘Take a look to see if you have it right.’ ”

Safety advocates say that tighter restrictions — like the ones Ms. Boxer and Mr. Wicker, along with Representative Doris Matsui, a California Democrat, have questioned — are necessary, particularly for products coming from China, where items as varied as toys and Christmas lights have been found to violate American safety standards.

While Mr. Neltner, the environmental advocate who has been most involved in the review process, has been open to compromise, he has pressed the E.P.A. not to back down entirely, and to maintain a requirement that laminators verify that their products are safe.

An episode of CBS’s “60 Minutes” in March brought attention to the issue when it accused Lumber Liquidators, the discount flooring retailer, of selling laminate products with dangerous levels of formaldehyde. The company has disputed the show’s findings and test methods, maintaining that its products are safe.

“People think that just because Congress passed the legislation five years ago, the problem has been fixed,” said Becky Gillette, who then lived in coastal Mississippi, in the area hit by Hurricane Katrina, and was among the first to notice a pattern of complaints from people living in the trailers. “Real people’s faces and names come up in front of me when I think of the thousands of people who could get sick if this rule is not done right.”

An aide to Ms. Matsui rejected any suggestion that she was bending to industry pressure.

“From the beginning the public health has been our No. 1 concern,” said Kyle J. Victor, an aide to Ms. Matsui.

But further changes to the rule are likely, agency officials concede, as they say they are searching for a way to reduce the cost of complying with any final rule while maintaining public health goals. The question is just how radically the agency will revamp the testing requirement for laminated products — if it keeps it at all.

“It’s not a secret to anybody that is the most challenging issue,” said Mr. Jones, the E.P.A. official overseeing the process, adding that the health consequences from formaldehyde are real. “We have to reduce those exposures so that people can live healthy lives and not have to worry about being in their homes.”

The Uphill Battle to Better Regulate Formaldehyde | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Dave Goldberg, Head of Web Survey Company and Half of a Silicon Valley Power Couple, Dies at 47

Mr. Goldberg was a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist who was married to Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook.

Dave Goldberg Was Lifelong Women’s Advocate

Dave Goldberg, Head of Web Survey Company and Half of a Silicon Valley Power Couple, Dies at 47 | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Nepal’s Young Men, Lost to Migration, Then a Quake

Photo
 
Many bodies prepared for cremation last week in Kathmandu were of young men from Gongabu, a common stopover for Nepali migrant workers headed overseas. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

KATHMANDU, Nepal — When the dense pillar of smoke from cremations by the Bagmati River was thinning late last week, the bodies were all coming from Gongabu, a common stopover for Nepali migrant workers headed overseas, and they were all of young men.

Hindu custom dictates that funeral pyres should be lighted by the oldest son of the deceased, but these men were too young to have sons, so they were burned by their brothers or fathers. Sukla Lal, a maize farmer, made a 14-hour journey by bus to retrieve the body of his 19-year-old son, who had been on his way to the Persian Gulf to work as a laborer.

“He wanted to live in the countryside, but he was compelled to leave by poverty,” Mr. Lal said, gazing ahead steadily as his son’s remains smoldered. “He told me, ‘You can live on your land, and I will come up with money, and we will have a happy family.’ ”

Weeks will pass before the authorities can give a complete accounting of who died in the April 25 earthquake, but it is already clear that Nepal cannot afford the losses. The countryside was largely stripped of its healthy young men even before the quake, as they migrated in great waves — 1,500 a day by some estimates — to work as laborers in India, Malaysia or one of the gulf nations, leaving many small communities populated only by elderly parents, women and children. Economists say that at some times of the year, one-quarter of Nepal’s population is working outside the country.

Nepal’s Young Men, Lost to Migration, Then a Quake | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Baltimore Residents Away From Turmoil Consider Their Role

BALTIMORE — In the afternoons, the streets of Locust Point are clean and nearly silent. In front of the rowhouses, potted plants rest next to steps of brick or concrete. There is a shopping center nearby with restaurants, and a grocery store filled with fresh foods.

And the National Guard and the police are largely absent. So, too, residents say, are worries about what happened a few miles away on April 27 when, in a space of hours, parts of this city became riot zones.

“They’re not our reality,” Ashley Fowler, 30, said on Monday at the restaurant where she works. “They’re not what we’re living right now. We live in, not to be racist, white America.”

As Baltimore considers its way forward after the violent unrest brought by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of injuries he suffered while in police custody, residents in its predominantly white neighborhoods acknowledge that they are sometimes struggling to understand what beyond Mr. Gray’s death spurred the turmoil here. For many, the poverty and troubled schools of gritty West Baltimore are distant troubles, glimpsed only when they pass through the area on their way somewhere else.

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Officers blocked traffic at Pennsylvania and West North Avenues after reports that a gun was discharged in the area. Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times

And so neighborhoods of Baltimore are facing altogether different reckonings after Mr. Gray’s death. In mostly black communities like Sandtown-Winchester, where some of the most destructive rioting played out last week, residents are hoping businesses will reopen and that the police will change their strategies. But in mostly white areas like Canton and Locust Point, some residents wonder what role, if any, they should play in reimagining stretches of Baltimore where they do not live.

“Most of the people are kind of at a loss as to what they’re supposed to do,” said Dr. Richard Lamb, a dentist who has practiced in the same Locust Point office for nearly 39 years. “I listen to the news reports. I listen to the clergymen. I listen to the facts of the rampant unemployment and the lack of opportunities in the area. Listen, I pay my taxes. Exactly what can I do?”

And in Canton, where the restaurants have clever names like Nacho Mama’s and Holy Crepe Bakery and Café, Sara Bahr said solutions seemed out of reach for a proudly liberal city.

“I can only imagine how frustrated they must be,” said Ms. Bahr, 36, a nurse who was out with her 3-year-old daughter, Sally. “I just wish I knew how to solve poverty. I don’t know what to do to make it better.”

The day of unrest and the overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations that followed led to hundreds of arrests, often for violations of the curfew imposed on the city for five consecutive nights while National Guard soldiers patrolled the streets. Although there were isolated instances of trouble in Canton, the neighborhood association said on its website, many parts of southeast Baltimore were physically untouched by the tumult.

Tensions in the city bubbled anew on Monday after reports that the police had wounded a black man in Northwest Baltimore. The authorities denied those reports and sent officers to talk with the crowds that gathered while other officers clutching shields blocked traffic at Pennsylvania and West North Avenues.

Lt. Col. Melvin Russell, a community police officer, said officers had stopped a man suspected of carrying a handgun and that “one of those rounds was spent.”

Colonel Russell said officers had not opened fire, “so we couldn’t have shot him.”

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Lambi Vasilakopoulos, right, who runs a casual restaurant in Canton, said he was incensed by last week's looting and predicted tensions would worsen. Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times

The colonel said the man had not been injured but was taken to a hospital as a precaution. Nearby, many people stood in disbelief, despite the efforts by the authorities to quash reports they described as “unfounded.”

Monday’s episode was a brief moment in a larger drama that has yielded anger and confusion. Although many people said they were familiar with accounts of the police harassing or intimidating residents, many in Canton and Locust Point said they had never experienced it themselves. When they watched the unrest, which many protesters said was fueled by feelings that they lived only on Baltimore’s margins, even those like Ms. Bahr who were pained by what they saw said they could scarcely comprehend the emotions associated with it.

But others, like Lambi Vasilakopoulos, who runs a casual restaurant in Canton, said they were incensed by what unfolded last week.

“What happened wasn’t called for. Protests are one thing; looting is another thing,” he said, adding, “We’re very frustrated because we’re the ones who are going to pay for this.”

There were pockets of optimism, though, that Baltimore would enter a period of reconciliation.

“I’m just hoping for peace,” Natalie Boies, 53, said in front of the Locust Point home where she has lived for 50 years. “Learn to love each other; be patient with each other; find justice; and care.”

A skeptical Mr. Vasilakopoulos predicted tensions would worsen.

“It cannot be fixed,” he said. “It’s going to get worse. Why? Because people don’t obey the laws. They don’t want to obey them.”

But there were few fears that the violence that plagued West Baltimore last week would play out on these relaxed streets. The authorities, Ms. Fowler said, would make sure of that.

“They kept us safe here,” she said. “I didn’t feel uncomfortable when I was in my house three blocks away from here. I knew I was going to be O.K. because I knew they weren’t going to let anyone come and loot our properties or our businesses or burn our cars.”

Baltimore Residents Away From Turmoil Consider Their Role | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Dean Skelos, Albany Senate Leader, Aided Son at All Costs, U.S. Says

Over the last five years or so, it seemed there was little that Dean G. Skelos, the majority leader of the New York Senate, would not do for his son.

He pressed a powerful real estate executive to provide commissions to his son, a 32-year-old title insurance salesman, according to a federal criminal complaint. He helped get him a job at an environmental company and employed his influence to help the company get government work. He used his office to push natural gas drilling regulations that would have increased his son’s commissions.

He even tried to direct part of a $5.4 billion state budget windfall to fund government contracts that the company was seeking. And when the company was close to securing a storm-water contract from Nassau County, the senator, through an intermediary, pressured the company to pay his son more — or risk having the senator subvert the bid.

The criminal complaint, unsealed on Monday, lays out corruption charges against Senator Skelos and his son, Adam B. Skelos, the latest scandal to seize Albany, and potentially alter its power structure.

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Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, discussed the case involving Dean G. Skelos and his son, Adam. Credit Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

The repeated and diverse efforts by Senator Skelos, a Long Island Republican, to use what prosecutors said was his political influence to find work, or at least income, for his son could send both men to federal prison. If they are convicted of all six charges against them, they face up to 20 years in prison for each of four of the six counts and up to 10 years for the remaining two.

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, of Long Island, who serves as chairman of the Republican conference, emerged from a closed-door meeting Monday night to say that conference members agreed that Mr. Skelos should be benefited the “presumption of innocence,” and would stay in his leadership role.

“The leader has indicated he would like to remain as leader,” said Mr. LaValle, “and he has the support of the conference.” The case against Mr. Skelos and his son grew out of a broader inquiry into political corruption by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, that has already changed the face of the state capital. It is based in part, according to the six-count complaint, on conversations secretly recorded by one of two cooperating witnesses, and wiretaps on the cellphones of the senator and his son. Those recordings revealed that both men were concerned about electronic surveillance, and illustrated the son’s unsuccessful efforts to thwart it.

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Adam Skelos took to using a “burner” phone, the complaint says, and told his father he wanted them to speak through a FaceTime video call in an apparent effort to avoid detection. They also used coded language at times.

At one point, Adam Skelos was recorded telling a Senate staff member of his frustration in not being able to speak openly to his father on the phone, noting that he could not “just send smoke signals or a little pigeon” carrying a message.

The 43-page complaint, sworn out by Paul M. Takla, a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, outlines a five-year scheme to “monetize” the senator’s official position; it also lays bare the extent to which a father sought to use his position to help his son.

The charges accuse the two men of extorting payments through a real estate developer, Glenwood Management, based on Long Island, and the environmental company, AbTech Industries, in Scottsdale, Ariz., with the expectation that the money paid to Adam Skelos — nearly $220,000 in total — would influence his father’s actions.

Glenwood, one of the state’s most prolific campaign donors, had ties to AbTech through investments in the environmental firm’s parent company by Glenwood’s founding family and a senior executive.

The accusations in the complaint portray Senator Skelos as a man who, when it came to his son, was not shy about twisting arms, even in situations that might give other arm-twisters pause.

Seeking to help his son, Senator Skelos turned to the executive at Glenwood, which develops rental apartments in New York City and has much at stake when it comes to real estate legislation in Albany. The senator urged him to direct business to his son, who sold title insurance.

After much prodding, the executive, Charles C. Dorego, engineered a $20,000 payment to Adam Skelos from a title insurance company even though he did no work for the money. But far more lucrative was a consultant position that Mr. Dorego arranged for Adam Skelos at AbTech, which seeks government contracts to treat storm water. (Mr. Dorego is not identified by name in the complaint, but referred to only as CW-1, for Cooperating Witness 1.)

Senator Skelos appeared to take an active interest in his son’s new line of work. Adam Skelos sent him several drafts of his consulting agreement with AbTech, the complaint says, as well as the final deal that was struck.

“Mazel tov,” his father replied.

Senator Skelos sent relevant news articles to his son, including one about a sewage leak near Albany. When AbTech wanted to seek government contracts after Hurricane Sandy, the senator got on a conference call with his son and an AbTech executive, Bjornulf White, and offered advice. (Like Mr. Dorego, Mr. White is not named in the complaint, but referred to as CW-2.)

The assistance paid off: With the senator’s help, AbTech secured a contract worth up to $12 million from Nassau County, a big break for a struggling small business.

But the money was slow to materialize. The senator expressed impatience with county officials.

Adam Skelos, in a phone call with Mr. White in late December, suggested that his father would seek to punish the county. “I tell you this, the state is not going to do a [expletive] thing for the county,” he said.

Three days later, Senator Skelos pressed his case with the Nassau County executive, Edward P. Mangano, a fellow Republican. “Somebody feels like they’re just getting jerked around the last two years,” the senator said, referring to his son in what the complaint described as “coded language.”

The next day, the senator pursued the matter, as he and Mr. Mangano attended a wake for a slain New York City police officer. Senator Skelos then reassured his son, who called him while he was still at the wake. “All claims that are in will be taken care of,” the senator said.

AbTech’s fortunes appeared to weigh on his son. At one point in January, Adam Skelos told his father that if the company did not succeed, he would “lose the ability to pay for things.”

Making matters worse, in recent months, Senator Skelos and his son appeared to grow wary about who was watching them. In addition to making calls on the burner phone, Adam Skelos said he used the FaceTime video calling “because that doesn’t show up on the phone bill,” as he told Mr. White.

In late February, Adam Skelos arranged a pair of meetings between Mr. White and state senators; AbTech needed to win state legislation that would allow its contract to move beyond its initial stages. But Senator Skelos deemed the plan too risky and caused one of the meetings to be canceled.

In another recorded call, Adam Skelos, promising to be “very, very vague” on the phone, urged his father to allow the meeting. The senator offered a warning. “Right now we are in dangerous times, Adam,” he told him.

A month later, in another phone call that was recorded by the authorities, Adam Skelos complained that his father could not give him “real advice” about AbTech while the two men were speaking over the telephone.

“You can’t talk normally,” he told his father, “because it’s like [expletive] Preet Bharara is listening to every [expletive] phone call. It’s just [expletive] frustrating.”

“It is,” his father agreed.

Dean Skelos, Albany Senate Leader, Aided Son at All Costs, U.S. Says | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Biographer of Clara Barton and Robert E. Lee, Dies at 64

Ms. Pryor, who served more than two decades in the State Department, was the author of well-regarded biographies of the founder of the American Red Cross and the Confederate commander.

Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Biographer of Clara Barton and Robert E. Lee, Dies at 64 | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Meet Mago, Former Heavyweight

GREENWICH, Conn. — Mago is in the bedroom. You can go in.

The big man lies on a hospital bed with his bare feet scraping its bottom rail. His head is propped on a scarlet pillow, the left temple dented, the right side paralyzed. His dark hair is kept just long enough to conceal the scars.

The occasional sounds he makes are understood only by his wife, but he still has that punctuating left hand. In slow motion, the fingers curl and close. A thumbs-up greeting.

Hello, Mago.

This is Magomed Abdusalamov, 34, also known as the Russian Tyson, also known as Mago. He is a former heavyweight boxer who scored four knockouts and 14 technical knockouts in his first 18 professional fights. He preferred to stand between rounds. Sitting conveyed weakness.

But Mago lost his 19th fight, his big chance, at the packed Theater at Madison Square Garden in November 2013. His 19th decision, and his last.

Now here he is, in a small bedroom in a working-class neighborhood in Greenwich, in a modest house his family rents cheap from a devoted friend. The air-pressure machine for his mattress hums like an expectant crowd.

 

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Mike Perez, left, and Magomed Abdusalamov during the fight in which Abdusalamov was injured. Credit Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

 

Today is like any other day, except for those days when he is hurried in crisis to the hospital. Every three hours during the night, his slight wife, Bakanay, 28, has risen to turn his 6-foot-3 body — 210 pounds of dead weight. It has to be done. Infections of the gaping bedsore above his tailbone have nearly killed him.

Then, with the help of a young caretaker, Baka has gotten two of their daughters off to elementary school and settled down the toddler. Yes, Mago and Baka are blessed with all girls, but they had also hoped for a son someday.

They feed Mago as they clean him; it’s easier that way. For breakfast, which comes with a side of crushed antiseizure pills, he likes oatmeal with a squirt of Hershey’s chocolate syrup. But even oatmeal must be puréed and fed to him by spoon.

He opens his mouth to indicate more, the way a baby does. But his paralysis has made everything a choking hazard. His water needs a stirring of powdered food thickener, and still he chokes — eh-eh-eh — as he tries to cough up what will not go down.

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Mago used to drink only water. No alcohol. Not even soda. A sip of juice would be as far as he dared. Now even water betrays him.

With the caretaker’s help, Baka uses a washcloth and soap to clean his body and shampoo his hair. How handsome still, she has thought. Sometimes, in the night, she leaves the bedroom to watch old videos, just to hear again his voice in the fullness of life. She cries, wipes her eyes and returns, feigning happiness. Mago must never see her sad.

 

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 Abdusalamov's hand being massaged. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

 

When Baka finishes, Mago is cleanshaven and fresh down to his trimmed and filed toenails. “I want him to look good,” she says.

Theirs was an arranged Muslim marriage in Makhachkala, in the Russian republic of Dagestan. He was 23, she was 18 and their future hinged on boxing. Sometimes they would shadowbox in love, her David to his Goliath. You are so strong, he would tell her.

His father once told him he could either be a bandit or an athlete, but if he chose banditry, “I will kill you.” This paternal advice, Mago later told The Ventura County Reporter, “made it a very easy decision for me.”

Mago won against mediocre competition, in Moscow and Hollywood, Fla., in Las Vegas and Johnstown, Pa. He was knocked down only once, and even then, it surprised more than hurt. He scored a technical knockout in the next round.

It all led up to this: the undercard at the Garden, Mike Perez vs. Magomed Abdusalamov, 10 rounds, on HBO. A win, he believed, would improve his chances of taking on the heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who sat in the crowd of 4,600 with his fiancée, the actress Hayden Panettiere, watching.

Wearing black-and-red trunks and a green mouth guard, Mago went to work. But in the first round, a hard forearm to his left cheek rocked him. At the bell, he returned to his corner, and this time, he sat down. “I think it’s broken,” he repeatedly said in Russian.

 

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Bakanay Abdusalamova, Abdusalamov's wife, and her injured husband and a masseur in the background. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

 

Maybe at that point, somebody — the referee, the ringside doctors, his handlers — should have stopped the fight, under a guiding principle: better one punch too early than one punch too late. But the bloody trade of blows continued into the seventh, eighth, ninth, a hand and orbital bone broken, his face transforming.

Meanwhile, in the family’s apartment in Miami, Baka forced herself to watch the broadcast. She could see it in his swollen eyes. Something was off.

After the final round, Perez raised his tattooed arms in victory, and Mago wandered off in a fog. He had taken 312 punches in about 40 minutes, for a purse of $40,000.

 

 

In the locker room, doctors sutured a cut above Mago’s left eye and tested his cognitive abilities. He did not do well. The ambulance that waits in expectation at every fight was not summoned by boxing officials.

Blood was pooling in Mago’s cranial cavity as he left the Garden. He vomited on the pavement while his handlers flagged a taxi to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. There, doctors induced a coma and removed part of his skull to drain fluids and ease the swelling.

Then came the stroke.

 

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A championship belt belonging to Abdusalamov and a card from one of his daughters. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

 

It is lunchtime now, and the aroma of puréed beef and potatoes lingers. So do the questions.

How will Mago and Baka pay the $2 million in medical bills they owe? What if their friend can no longer offer them this home? Will they win their lawsuits against the five ringside doctors, the referee, and a New York State boxing inspector? What about Mago’s future care?

Most of all: Is this it?

A napkin rests on Mago’s chest. As another spoonful of mush approaches, he opens his mouth, half-swallows, chokes, and coughs until it clears. Eh-eh-eh. Sometimes he turns bluish, but Baka never shows fear. Always happy for Mago.

Some days he is wheeled out for physical therapy or speech therapy. Today, two massage therapists come to knead his half-limp body like a pair of skilled corner men.

Soon, Mago will doze. Then his three daughters, ages 2, 6 and 9, will descend upon him to talk of their day. Not long ago, the oldest lugged his championship belt to school for a proud show-and-tell moment. Her classmates were amazed at the weight of it.

Then, tonight, there will be more puréed food and pulverized medication, more coughing, and more tender care from his wife, before sleep comes.

Goodbye, Mago.

He half-smiles, raises his one good hand, and forms a fist.

Meet Mago, Former Heavyweight | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Top News China’s Intents Are Questioned as It Builds in Antarctica

HOBART, Tasmania — Few places seem out of reach for China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has traveled from European capitals to obscure Pacific and Caribbean islands in pursuit of his nation’s strategic interests.

So perhaps it was not surprising when he turned up last fall in this city on the edge of the Southern Ocean to put down a long-distance marker in another faraway region, Antarctica, 2,000 miles south of this Australian port.

Standing on the deck of an icebreaker that ferries Chinese scientists from this last stop before the frozen continent, Mr. Xi pledged that China would continue to expand in one of the few places on earth that remain unexploited by humans.

He signed a five-year accord with the Australian government that allows Chinese vessels and, in the future, aircraft to resupply for fuel and food before heading south. That will help secure easier access to a region that is believed to have vast oil and mineral resources; huge quantities of high-protein sea life; and for times of possible future dire need, fresh water contained in icebergs.

It was not until 1985, about seven decades after Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen raced to the South Pole, that a team representing Beijing hoisted the Chinese flag over the nation’s first Antarctic research base, the Great Wall Station on King George Island.

But now China seems determined to catch up. As it has bolstered spending on Antarctic research, and as the early explorers, especially the United States and Australia, confront stagnant budgets, there is growing concern about its intentions.

China’s operations on the continent — it opened its fourth research station last year, chose a site for a fifth, and is investing in a second icebreaker and new ice-capable planes and helicopters — are already the fastest growing of the 52 signatories to the Antarctic Treaty. That gentlemen’s agreement reached in 1959 bans military activity on the continent and aims to preserve it as one of the world’s last wildernesses; a related pact prohibits mining.

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But Mr. Xi’s visit was another sign that China is positioning itself to take advantage of the continent’s resource potential when the treaty expires in 2048 — or in the event that it is ripped up before, Chinese and Australian experts say.

“So far, our research is natural-science based, but we know there is more and more concern about resource security,” said Yang Huigen, director general of the Polar Research Institute of China, who accompanied Mr. Xi last November on his visit to Hobart and stood with him on the icebreaker, Xue Long, or Snow Dragon.

With that in mind, the polar institute recently opened a new division devoted to the study of resources, law, geopolitics and governance in Antarctica and the Arctic, Mr. Yang said.

Australia, a strategic ally of the United States that has strong economic relations with China, is watching China’s buildup in the Antarctic with a mix of gratitude — China’s presence offers support for Australia’s Antarctic science program, which is short of cash — and wariness.

“We should have no illusions about the deeper agenda — one that has not even been agreed to by Chinese scientists but is driven by Xi, and most likely his successors,” said Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and a former senior official in the Australian Department of Defense.

“This is part of a broader pattern of a mercantilist approach all around the world,” Mr. Jennings added. “A big driver of Chinese policy is to secure long-term energy supply and food supply.”

That approach was evident last month when a large Chinese agriculture enterprise announced an expansion of its fishing operations around Antarctica to catch more krill — small, protein-rich crustaceans that are abundant in Antarctic waters.

“The Antarctic is a treasure house for all human beings, and China should go there and share,” Liu Shenli, the chairman of the China National Agricultural Development Group, told China Daily, a state-owned newspaper. China would aim to fish up to two million tons of krill a year, he said, a substantial increase from what it currently harvests.

Because sovereignty over Antarctica is unclear, nations have sought to strengthen their claims over the ice-covered land by building research bases and naming geographic features. China’s fifth station will put it within reach of the six American facilities, and ahead of Australia’s three.

Chinese mappers have also given Chinese names to more than 300 sites, compared with the thousands of locations on the continent with English names.

In the unspoken competition for Antarctica’s future, scientific achievement can also translate into influence. Chinese scientists are driving to be the first to drill and recover an ice core containing tiny air bubbles that provide a record of climate change stretching as far back as 1.5 million years. It is an expensive and delicate effort at which others, including the European Union and Australia, have failed.

In a breakthrough a decade ago, European scientists extracted an ice core nearly two miles long that revealed 800,000 years of climate history. But finding an ice core going back further would allow scientists to examine a change in the earth’s climate cycles believed to have occurred 900,000 to 1.2 million years ago.

China is betting it has found the best location to drill, at an area called Dome A, or Dome Argus, the highest point on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Though it is considered one of the coldest places on the planet, with temperatures of 130 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, a Chinese expedition explored the area in 2005 and established a research station in 2009.

“The international community has drilled in lots of places, but no luck so far,” said Xiao Cunde, a member of the first party to reach the site and the deputy director of the Institute for Climate Change at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences. “We think at Dome A we will have a straight shot at the one-million-year ice core.”

Mr. Xiao said China had already begun drilling and hoped to find what scientists are looking for in four to five years.

To support its Antarctic aspirations, China is building a sophisticated $300 million icebreaker that is expected to be ready in a few years, said Xia Limin, deputy director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration in Beijing. It has also bought a high-tech fixed-wing aircraft, outfitted in the United States, for taking sensitive scientific soundings from the ice.

China has chosen the site for its fifth research station at Inexpressible Island, named by a group of British explorers who were stranded at the desolate site in 1912 and survived the winter by excavating a small ice cave.

Mr. Xia said the inhospitable spot was ideal because China did not have a presence in that part of Antarctica, and because the rocky site did not have much snow, making it relatively cheap to build there.

Anne-Marie Brady, a professor of political science at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and the author of a soon-to-be-released book, “China as a Polar Great Power,” said Chinese scientists also believed they had a good chance of finding mineral and energy resources near the site.

“China is playing a long game in Antarctica and keeping other states guessing about its true intentions and interests are part of its poker hand,” she said. But she noted that China’s interest in finding minerals was presented “loud and clear to domestic audiences” as the main reason it was investing in Antarctica.

Because commercial drilling is banned, estimates of energy and mineral resources in Antarctica rely on remote sensing data and comparisons with similar geological environments elsewhere, said Millard F. Coffin, executive director of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart.

But the difficulty of extraction in such severe conditions and uncertainty about future commodity prices make it unlikely that China or any country would defy the ban on mining anytime soon.

Tourism, however, is already booming. Travelers from China are still a relatively small contingent in the Antarctic compared with the more than 13,000 Americans who visited in 2013, and as yet there are no licensed Chinese tour operators.

But that is about to change, said Anthony Bergin, deputy director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “I understand very soon there will be Chinese tourists on Chinese vessels with all-Chinese crew in the Antarctic,” he said.

 

Top News China’s Intents Are Questioned as It Builds in Antarctica | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Richard Suzman, 72, Dies; Researcher Influenced Global Surveys on Aging

At the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Suzman’s signature accomplishment was the central role he played in creating a global network of surveys on aging.

Richard Suzman, 72, Dies; Researcher Influenced Global Surveys on Aging | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Marty Napoleon, 93, Dies; Jazz Pianist Played With Louis Armstrong

Mr. Napoleon was a self-taught musician whose career began in earnest with the orchestra led by Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers.

Marty Napoleon, 93, Dies; Jazz Pianist Played With Louis Armstrong | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Maya Plisetskaya, Ballerina Who Embodied Bolshoi, Dies at 89

Ms. Plisetskaya, renowned for her fluidity of movement, expressive acting and willful personality, danced on the Bolshoi stage well into her 60s, but her life was shadowed by Stalinism.

Maya Plisetskaya, Ballerina Who Embodied Bolshoi, Dies at 89 | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

Tribute for a Roller Hockey Warrior

Hockey is not exactly known as a city game, but played on roller skates, it once held sway as the sport of choice in many New York neighborhoods.

“City kids had no rinks, no ice, but they would do anything to play hockey,” said Edward Moffett, former director of the Long Island City Y.M.C.A. Roller Hockey League, in Queens, whose games were played in city playgrounds going back to the 1940s.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, the league had more than 60 teams, he said. Players included the Mullen brothers of Hell’s Kitchen and Dan Dorion of Astoria, Queens, who would later play on ice for the National Hockey League.

One street legend from the heyday of New York roller hockey was Craig Allen, who lived in the Woodside Houses projects and became one of the city’s hardest hitters and top scorers.

“Craig was a warrior, one of the best roller hockey players in the city in the ’70s,” said Dave Garmendia, 60, a retired New York police officer who grew up playing with Mr. Allen. “His teammates loved him and his opponents feared him.”

Young Craig took up hockey on the streets of Queens in the 1960s, playing pickup games between sewer covers, wearing steel-wheeled skates clamped onto school shoes and using a roll of electrical tape as the puck.

His skill and ferocity drew attention, Mr. Garmendia said, but so did his skin color. He was black, in a sport made up almost entirely by white players.

“Roller hockey was a white kid’s game, plain and simple, but Craig broke the color barrier,” Mr. Garmendia said. “We used to say Craig did more for race relations than the N.A.A.C.P.”

Mr. Allen went on to coach and referee roller hockey in New York before moving several years ago to South Carolina. But he continued to organize an annual alumni game at Dutch Kills Playground in Long Island City, the same site that held the local championship games.

The reunion this year was on Saturday, but Mr. Allen never made it. On April 26, just before boarding the bus to New York, he died of an asthma attack at age 61.

Word of his death spread rapidly among hundreds of his old hockey colleagues who resolved to continue with the event, now renamed the Craig Allen Memorial Roller Hockey Reunion.

The turnout on Saturday was the largest ever, with players pulling on their old equipment, choosing sides and taking once again to the rink of cracked blacktop with faded lines and circles. They wore no helmets, although one player wore a fedora.

Another, Vinnie Juliano, 77, of Long Island City, wore his hearing aids, along with his 50-year-old taped-up quads, or four-wheeled skates with a leather boot. Many players here never converted to in-line skates, and neither did Mr. Allen, whose photograph appeared on a poster hanging behind the players’ bench.

“I’m seeing people walking by wondering why all these rusty, grizzly old guys are here playing hockey,” one player, Tommy Dominguez, said. “We’re here for Craig, and let me tell you, these old guys still play hard.”

Everyone seemed to have a Craig Allen story, from his earliest teams at Public School 151 to the Bryant Rangers, the Woodside Wings, the Woodside Blues and more.

Mr. Allen, who became a yellow-cab driver, was always recruiting new talent. He gained the nickname Cabby for his habit of stopping at playgrounds all over the city to scout players.

Teams were organized around neighborhoods and churches, and often sponsored by local bars. Mr. Allen, for one, played for bars, including Garry Owen’s and on the Fiddler’s Green Jokers team in Inwood, Manhattan.

Play was tough and fights were frequent.

“We were basically street gangs on skates,” said Steve Rogg, 56, a mail clerk who grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, and who on Saturday wore his Riedell Classic quads from 1972. “If another team caught up with you the night before a game, they tossed you a beating so you couldn’t play the next day.”

Mr. Garmendia said Mr. Allen’s skin color provoked many fights.

“When we’d go to some ignorant neighborhoods, a lot of players would use slurs,” Mr. Garmendia said, recalling a game in Ozone Park, Queens, where local fans parked motorcycles in a lineup next to the blacktop and taunted Mr. Allen. Mr. Garmendia said he checked a player into the motorcycles, “and the bikes went down like dominoes, which started a serious brawl.”

A group of fans at a game in Brooklyn once stuck a pole through the rink fence as Mr. Allen skated by and broke his jaw, Mr. Garmendia said, adding that carloads of reinforcements soon arrived to defend Mr. Allen.

And at another racially incited brawl, the police responded with six patrol cars and a helicopter.

Before play began on Saturday, the players gathered at center rink to honor Mr. Allen. Billy Barnwell, 59, of Woodside, recalled once how an all-white, all-star squad snubbed Mr. Allen by playing him third string. He scored seven goals in the first game and made first string immediately.

“He’d always hear racial stuff before the game, and I’d ask him, ‘How do you put up with that?’” Mr. Barnwell recalled. “Craig would say, ‘We’ll take care of it,’ and by the end of the game, he’d win guys over. They’d say, ‘This guy’s good.’”

Tribute for a Roller Hockey Warrior | PAKET UMROH BULAN JANUARI 2016

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