PAKET UMROH BULAN FEBRUARI MARET APRIL MEI 2018




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saco-indonesia.com, Pagi ini, Ketua Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI) Jusuf Kalla akan menggelar apel kesiagaan di rest area Gunung Kelud, Rabu (12/2). Jarak apel dari kawah Gunung Kelud hanya sekitar 8 km.

Apel rencananya juga akan diikuti oleh 400 anggota PMI dari Kota Kediri, Kabupaten Kediri, Nganjuk, Kota /Kabupaten Blitar dan Trenggalek. Juga ada anggota dari Malang.

"Selain telah mempersiapkan personel kita juga akan menyiapkan yang menjadi kebutuhan jika terjadi letusan," kata Kepala PMI Jawa Timur Djoni Irianto.

Untuk dapat mengantisipasi terjadinya letusan, PMI Pusat juga sudah menyiapkan satu mobil evakuasi buatan Swedia, Hagglunds. Kendaraan itu telah didatangkan PMI Pusat dari gudang regional Jatim di Gresik Jawa Timur, pada Selasa (11/2) sore.

Mobil mirip dengan tank ini sebagai mobil penyelamatan pernah dimanfaatkan pada saat erupsi di Sinabung dan Merapi beberapa waktu lalu. Selain tangguh di berbagai medan, mobil ini juga tahan terhadap hawa panas dan mampu menampung 10 orang penumpang untuk evakuasi.


Editor : Dian Sukmawati

JK TERJUNKAN HAGGLUNDS DI GUNUNG KELUD

Ada satu fenomena yang umum disaksikan pada kalangan jamaah haji Indonesia dan juga negara lainnya. Saat berada di kota suci Mekkah, banyak yang berbondong-bondong menuju tanah yang halal, yaitu al hillu, Masjid ‘Aisyah di Tan’im atau Ji’ranah. Tujuannya untuk melaksanakan umrah lagi. Umrah yang mereka kerjakan bisa lebih dari sekali dalam satu hari. Dalih mereka, mumpung sedang berada di Mekkah, sepantasnya memperbanyak ibadah umrah, yang belum tentu bisa dikerjakan lagi sesudah sampai di tanah air. Atau dengan kata lain, untuk memperbanyak pahala. Saking berlebihannya, Syaikh Muhammad bin Shalih al 'Utsaimin penuh keheranan pernah menyaksikan seorang laki-laki yang sedang mengerjakan sa'i dengan rambut tersisa separo saja (sisi yang lain gundul). Syaikh 'Utsaimin pun bertanya kepadanya, dan laki-laki tersebut menjawab : “Bagian yang tak berambut ini telah dipotong untuk umrah kemarin. Sedangkan rambut yang tersisa untuk umrah hari ini”. [1]

SELAIN IKHLAS, IBADAH MEMBUTUHKAN MUTABA’AH
Suatu ibadah agar diterima oleh Allah, harus terpenuhi oleh dua syarat. Yaitu ikhlas dan juga harus dibarengi dengan mutaba’ah. Sehingga tidak cukup hanya mengandalkan ikhlas semata, tetapi juga harus mengikuti petunjuk Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Disamping itu juga dengan mengetahui praktek dan pemahaman generasi Salaf dalam menjalakan ibadah haji yang pernah dikerjakan oleh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Sebab, generasi Salaf merupakan generasi terbaik, yang paling semangat dalam meraih kebaikan.

Umrah termasuk dalam kategori ini. Sebagai ibadah yang disyariatkan, maka harus bersesuaian dengan rambu-rambu syari'at dan nash-nashnya, petunjuk Nabi dan para sahabat, serta para pengikut mereka yang ihsan sampai hari Kiamat. Dan ittiba’ ini merupakan salah satu tonggak diterimanya amalan di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.

Sebagai ibadah yang sudah jelas tuntunannya, pelaksanan umrah tidak lagi memerlukan ijtihad padanya. Tidak boleh mendekatkan diri kepada Allah melalui ibadah umrah dengan ketentuan yang tidak pernah digariskan. Kalau tidak mengikuti petunjuk syariat, berarti ibadah yang dilakukan menunjukkan sikap i’tida` (melampaui batas) terhadap hak Allah, dalam aspek penetapan hukum syariat, serta merupakan penentangan terhadap ketentuan Allah dalam hukumNya. Allah berfirman : "Apakah mereka mempunyai sembahan-sembahan selain Allah yang mensyariatkan untuk mereka agama yang tidak diizinkan Allah? Sekiranya tak ada ketetapan yang menentukan (dari Allah) tentulah mereka telah dibinasakan. Dan sesungguhnya orang-orang yang zhalim itu akan memperoleh azab yang amat pedih" [Asy Syura /42: 21][2]

JUMLAH UMRAH RASULULLAH SHALLALLAHU 'ALAIHI WA SALLAM
Sepanjang hidupnya, Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam melakukan umrah sebanyak 4 kali.

عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ اعْتَمَرَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَرْبَعَ عُمَرٍ عُمْرَةَ الْحُدَيْبِيَةِ وَعُمْرَةَ الْقَضَاءِ مِنْ قَابِلٍ وَالثَّالِثَةَ مِنْ الْجِعْرَانَةِ وَالرَّابِعَةَ الَّتِي مَعَ حَجَّتِهِ

Dari Ibnu 'Abbas, ia berkata : "Rasulullah mengerjakan umrah sebanyak empat kali. (Yaitu) umrah Hudaibiyah, umrah Qadha`, umrah ketiga dari Ji'ranah, dan keempat (umrah) yang bersamaan dengan pelaksanaan haji beliau".[3]

Menurut Ibnul Qayyim, dalam masalah ini tidak ada perbedaan pendapat [4]. Setiap umrah tersebut, beliau kerjakan dalam sebuah perjalanan tersendiri. Tiga umrah secara tersendiri, tanpa disertai haji. Dan sekali bersamaan dengan haji.
Pertama, umrah Hudhaibiyah tahun 6 H. Beliau dan para sahabat yang berbaiat di bawah syajarah (pohon), mengambil miqat dari Dzul Hulaifah Madinah. Pada perjalanan umrah ini, kaum Musyrikin menghalangi kaum Muslimin untuk memasuki kota Mekkah. Akhirnya, terjadilah pernjanjian Hudhaibiyah. Salah satu pointnya, kaum Muslimin harus kembali ke Madinah, tanpa bisa melaksanakan umrah yang sudah direncanakan.

Kemudian, kaum Muslimin mengerjakan umrah lagi pada tahun berikutnya. Dikenal dengan umrah Qadhiyyah atau Qadha`[5] tahun 7 H. Selama tiga hari beliau n berada di Mekkah. Dan ketiga, umrah Ji’ranah pada tahun 8 H. Yang terakhir, saat beliau Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam mengerjakan haji Wada’. Semua umrah yang beliau kerjakan terjadi pada bulan Dzul Qa`dah.[6]

SEBELAS ALASAN TIDAK MELAKUKAN UMRAH BERULANG KALI
Para ulama memandang, melakukan umrah berulang kali sebagai perbuatan yang makruh. Masalah ini telah dijelaskan oleh Syaikhul Islam Ibnu Taimiyyah dalam Fatawanya. Keterangan beliau tersebut dikutip oleh Syaikh Muhammad bin Shalih al Utsaimin dalam Syarhul Mumti’. [7]

Berikut ini beberapa aspek yang menjelaskan bahwa umrah berulang-ulang seperti yang dikerjakan oleh sebagian jamaah haji –sebagaimana fenomena di atas- tidak disyariatkan.

Pertama : Pelaksanaan empat umrah yang dikerjakan Rasulullah, masing-masing dikerjakan dengan perjalanan (safar) tersendiri. Bukan satu perjalanan untuk sekian banyak umrah, seperti yang dilakukan oleh jamaah haji sekarang ini. Syaikh Muhammad bin Shalih al 'Utsaimin menyimpulkan, setiap umrah mempunyai waktu safar tersendiri. Artinya, satu perjalanan hanya untuk satu umrah saja [8]. Sedangkan perjalanan menuju Tan’im belum bisa dianggap safar. Sebab masih berada dalam lingkup kota Mekkah.

Kedua : Para sahabat yang menyertai Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam haji Wada’, tidak ada riwayat yang menerangkan salah seorang dari mereka yang beranjak keluar menuju tanah yang halal untuk tujuan umrah, baik sebelum atau setelah pelaksanaan haji. Juga tidak pergi ke Tan’im, Hudhaibiyah atau Ji’ranah untuk tujuan umrah. Begitu pula, orang-orang yang tinggal di Mekkah, tidak ada yang keluar menuju tanah halal untuk tujuan umrah. Ini sebuah perkara yang disepakati dan dimaklumi oleh semua ulama yang mengerti sunnah dan syariat Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam.[9]

Ketiga : Umrah beliau Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam yang dimulai dari Ji’ranah tidak bisa dijadikan dalil untuk membolehkan umrah berulang-ulang. Sebab, pada awalnya beliau Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam memasuki kota Mekkah untuk menaklukannya dalam keadaan halal (bukan muhrim) pada tahun 8 H. Selama tujuhbelas hari beliau berada di sana. Kemudian sampai kepada beliau berita, kalau suku Hawazin bermaksud memerangi beliau. Akhirnya beliau mendatangi dan memerangi mereka. Ghanimah dibagi di daerah Ji’ranah. Setelah itu, beliau ingin mengerjakan umrah dari Ji’ranah. Beliau tidak keluar dari Mekkah ke Ji’ranah secara khusus. Namun, ada perkara lain yang membuat beliau keluar dari Mekkah. Jadi, semata-mata bukan untuk mengerjakan umrah.[10]

Keempat : Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, juga para sahabat -kecuali ‘Aisyah- tidak pernah mengerjakan satu umrah pun dari Mekkah, meski setelah Mekkah ditaklukkan. Begitu pula, tidak ada seorang pun yang keluar dari tanah Haram menuju tanah yang halal untuk mengerjakan umrah dari sana sebelum Mekkah ditaklukkan dan menjadi Darul Islam. Karena thawaf di Ka’bah tetap masyru’ sejak Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam diutus. Bahkan sejak Nabi Ibrahim Alaihissalam. Mengerjakan thawaf tanpa umrah terlebih dahulu, sudah mengantarkan kepada sebuah ketetapan yang pasti, bahwa perkara yang disyariatkan bagi penduduk Mekkah (orang yang berada di Mekkah) adalah thawaf. Itulah yang lebih utama bagi mereka dari pada keluar dari tanah Haram untuk mengerjakan umrah. Sebab, tidak mungkin Rasulullah dan para sahabat lebih mengutamakan amalan mafdhul/ (yang nilainya kurang) -dalam hal ini thawaf- dibandingkan amalan yang lebih afdhal (umrah menurut asumsi sebagian jamaah haji). Padahal Nabi n tidak memerintahkan umat untuk melakukan umrah berulang-ulang. Ucapan ini tidak mungkin dikatakan oleh seorang muslim.[11]

Ibnul Qayyim berkata,"Tidak ada umrah beliau dalam keadaan beliau keluar dari Mekkah sebagaimana dilakukan oleh kebanyakan orang sekarang ini. Seluruh umrah beliau, dilangsungkan dari luar kota Mekkah menuju Mekkah (tidak keluar dahulu baru masuk kota Mekkah). Nabi pernah tinggal di Mekkah selama 13 tahun. Namun tidak ada riwayat yang menjelaskan beliau Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam keluar kota Mekkah untuk mengerjakan umrah.

Jadi umrah yang beliau kerjakan dan yang disyariatkan adalah, umrah orang yang memasuki kota Mekkah (berasal dari luar Mekkah), bukan umrah orang yang berada di dalamnya (Mekkah), dengan menuju daerah yang halal (di luar batas tanah haram) untuk mengerjakan umrah dari sana. Tidak ada yang melakukannya di masa beliau, kecuali 'Aisyah semata…[12]

Kelima : Tentang umrah yang dilakukan oleh ‘Aisyah pada haji Wada’ bukanlah berdasarkan perintah Nabi. Beliau mengizinkannya setelah 'Aisyah memohon dengan sangat.[13]

Kisahnya, pada waktu menunaikan ibadah haji bersama Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, 'Aisyah mendapatkan haidh, maka Rasulullah memerintahkan saudara ‘Aisyah yang bernama ‘Abdurrahman bin Abu Bakar mengantar ‘Aisyah ke daerah Tan’im, agar ia memulai ihram untuk umrah disana. Karena 'Aisyah menyangka, bahwa umrah yang dilakukan bersamaan dengan haji, akan batal, sehingga ia menangis. Kemudian untuk menenangkannya, maka Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam mengijinkan 'Aisyah melakukan umrah lagi.

Umrah yang dilakukan ‘Aisyah ini sebagai pengkhususan baginya. Sebab, belum didapati satu pun dalil dari seorang sahabat laki-laki ataupun perempuan yang menerangkan bahwa ia pernah melakukan umrah usai melaksanakan ibadah haji, dengan memulai ihram dari kawasan Tan’im, sebagaiamana yang telah dilakukan 'Aisyah Radhiyallahu 'anha. Andaikata para sahabat mengetahui perbuatan ‘Aisyah tersebut disyariatkan juga buat mereka pasca menunaikan ibadah haji, niscaya banyak riwayat dari mereka yang menjelaskan hal itu.

Ibnul Qayyim mengatakan, (Umrah ‘Aisyah) menjadi dasar tentang umrah dari Mekkah. Tidak ada dalil bagi orang yang menilainya (umrah berulang-ulang) selainnya. Sesungguhnya Nabi dan sahabat yang bersama beliau dalam haji (Wada’) tidak ada yang keluar dari Mekkah, kecuali ‘Aisyah saja. Kemudian orang-orang yang mendukung umrah dari Mekkah, menjadikan riwayat tersebut sebagai dasar pendapat mereka. Tetapi, kandungan riwayat tersebut tidak ada yang menunjukkan dukungan terhadap pendapat mereka.[14]

Imam asy Syaukani rahimahullah berkata,"Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam tidak pernah berumrah dengan cara keluar dari daerah Mekkah ke tanah halal, kemudian masuk Mekkah lagi dengan niat umrah, sebagaimana layaknya yang dilakukan kebanyakan orang sekarang. Padahal, tak satupun yang sah yang menerangkan ada seorang sahabat melakukan yang demikian itu”.[15]

Keenam : Kaum Muslimin bersilang pendapat tentang hukum umrah, apakah wajib ataukah tidak. Para ulama yang memandang umrah itu wajib seperti layaknya haji, mereka tidak mewajibkannya atas penduduk Mekkah. Imam Ahmad pernah menukil perkataan Ibnu 'Abbas: “Wahai penduduk Mekkah, tidak ada kewajiban umrah atas kalian. Umrah kalian adalah thawaf di Ka’bah”.

‘Atha bin Abi Rabah [16] –ulama yang paling menguasai manasik haji dan panutan penduduk Mekkah– berkata : “Tidak ada manusia ciptaan Allah kecuali wajib atas dirinya haji dan umrah. Dua kewajiban yang harus dilaksanakan bagi orang yang mampu, kecuali penghuni Mekkah. Mereka wajib mengerjakan haji, tetapi tidak wajib umrah, karena mereka sudah mengerjakan thawaf. Dan itu sudah mencukupi”.

Thawus [17] berkata: “Tidak ada kewajiban umrah bagi orang yang berada di Mekkah”. (Riwayat Ibnu Abi Syaibah).

Berdasarkan beberapa keterangan para ulama Salaf tersebut, menunjukkan bahwa bagi penduduk Mekkah, mereka tidak menilai sunnah, apalagi sampai mewajibkannya. Seandainya wajib, maka sudah pasti Nabi n memerintahkannya atas diri mereka dan mereka akan mematuhinya. Tetapi, tidak ada riwayat yang menjelaskan tentang orang yang berumrah dari Mekkah di masa Nabi masih hidup, kecuali ‘Aisyah saja. Kisah ini sudah dijelaskan persoalannya di atas.

Karenanya, para ulama hadits, bila ingin menulis tentang umrah dari Mekkah, mereka hanya menyinggung tentang kejadian ‘Aisyah saja. Tidak ada yang lain. Seandainya ada, pasti sudah sampai kepada kita.[18]

Ketujuh : Intisari umrah adalah thawaf. Adapun sa’i antara Shafa dan Marwah bersifat menyertai saja. Bukti yang menunjukkannya sebagai penyerta adalah, sa'i tidak dikerjakan kecuali setelah thawaf. Dan ibadah thawaf ini bisa dikerjakan oleh penduduk Mekkah, tanpa harus keluar dari batas tanah suci Mekkah terlebih dahulu. Barangsiapa yang sudah mampu mengerjakan perkara yang inti, ia tidak diperintahkan untuk menempuh wasilah (perantara yang mengantarkan kepada tujuan). [19]

Kedelapan : Berkeliling di Ka’bah adalah ibadah yang dituntut. Adapun menempuh perjalanan menuju tempat halal untuk berniat umrah dari sana merupakan sarana menjalankan ibadah yang diminta. Orang yang menyibukkan diri dengan sarana (menuju tempat yang halal untuk berumrah dari sana) sehingga meninggalkan tujuan inti (thawaf), orang ini telah salah jalan, tidak paham tentang agama. Lebih buruk dari orang yang berdiam di dekat masjid pada hari Jum’at, sehingga memungkinkannya bersegera menuju masjid untuk shalat, tetapi ia justru menuju tempat yang jauh untuk mengawali perjalanan menuju masjid itu. Akibatnya, ia meninggalkan perkara yang menjadi tuntutan, yaitu shalat di dalam masjid tersebut.

Kesembilan : Mereka mengetahui dengan yakin, bahwa thawaf di sekeliling Baitullah jauh lebih utama daripada sa’i. Maka daripada mereka menyibukkan diri dengan pergi keluar ke daerah Tan’im dan sibuk dengan amalan-amalan umrah yang baru sebagai tambahan bagi umrah sebelumnya, lebih baik mereka melakukan thawaf di sekeliling Ka’bah. Dan sudah dimaklumi, bahwa waktu yang tersita untuk pergi ke Tan’im karena ingin memulai ihram untuk umrah yang baru, dapat dimanfaatkan untuk mengerjakan thawaf ratusan kali keliling Ka’bah.

Bahkan Syaikhul Islam Ibnu Taimiyah menilainya sebagai bid’ah, (sebuah perkara yang) belum pernah dikerjakan oleh generasi Salaf, tidak diperintahkan oleh al Kitab dan as Sunnah. Juga tidak ada dalil syar’i yang menunjukkan status sunnahnya. Apabila demikian adanya, berarti termasuk bid’ah yang dibenci berdasarkan kesepakatan para ulama[20]. Oleh karenanya, para generasi Salaf dan para imam melarangnya.

Sa’id bin Manshur meriwayatkan dalam Sunan-nya dari Thawus, salah seorang murid Ibnu ‘Abbas mengatakan :

مَا أَدْرِيْ أَيُؤْجَرُوْنَ عَلَيْهَا أَمْ يُعَذَّبُوْنَ. قِيْلَ : فَلِمَ يُعَذَّبُوْنَ؟ قَالَ : لِأَنَّهُ يَدَعُ الطَّوَافَ بِالْبَيْتِ . وَيَخْرُجُ إِلَى أَرْبَعَةِ أَمْيَالِ وَيَجِيْئُ وَإِلَى أَنْ يَجِيْئَ مِنْ أَرَبَعَةِ أَمْيَالٍ قَدْ طَافَ مِائَتَيْ طَوَافٍ. وَكُلَّمَا طَافَ بِالْبَيْتِ كَانَ أَفْضَلَ مِنْ أَنْ يَمْشِيَ فِيْ غَيْرِ شَيْئٍ

"Aku tidak tahu, orang-orang yang mengerjakan umrah dari kawasan Tan’im, apakah mereka diberi pahala atau justru disiksa". Ada yang bertanya : “Mengapa mereka disiksa?” Beliau menjawab : “Karena meninggalkan thawaf di Ka’bah. Untuk keluar menempuh jarak empat mil dan pulang (pun demikian). Sampai ia pulang menempuh jarak empat mil, ia bisa berkeliling Ka’bah sebanyak dua ratus kali. Setiap kali ia berthawaf di Ka’bah, itulah yang utama daripada menempuh perjalanan tanpa tujuan apapun”.[21]

‘Atha` pernah berkata : “Thawaf di Ka’bah lebih aku sukai daripada keluar (dari Mekkah) untuk umrah”. [22]

Kesepuluh : Setelah memaparkan kejadian orang yang berumrah berulang-ulang, misalnya melakukannya dua kali dalam sehari, Syaikhul Islam semakin memantapkan pendapatnya, bahwa umrah yang demikian tersebut makruh, berdasarkan kesepakatan para imam. Selanjutnya beliau menambahkan, meskipun ada sejumlah ulama dari kalangan Syafi’iyyah dan ulama Hanabilah yang menilai umrah berulang kali sebagai amalan yang sunnah, namun pada dasarnya mereka tidak mempunyai hujjah khusus, kecuali hanya qiyas umum. Yakni, untuk memperbanyak ibadah atau berpegangan dengan dalil-dalil yang umum.[23]

Di antara dalil yang umum, hadits Nabi:

الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا

"Antara umrah menuju umrah berikutnya menjadi penghapus )dosa( di antara keduanya" [24].

Tentang hadits ini, Syaikh al 'Utsaimin mendudukkan bahwa hadits ini, mutlak harus dikaitkan dengan apa yang diperbuat oleh generasi Salaf ridhwanullah ‘alaihim [25]. Penjelasannya sudah disampaikan pada point-point sebelumnya. Ringkasnya, tidak ada contoh dari kalangan generasi Salaf dalam melaksanakan umrah yang berulang-ulang.

Kesebelas : Pada penaklukan kota Mekkah, Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam berada di Mekkah selama sembilan belas hari. Tetapi, tidak ada riwayat bahwa beliau keluar ke daerah halal untuk melangsungkan umrah dari sana. Apakah Nabi tidak tahu bahwa itu masyru’ (disyariatkan)? Tentu saja tidak mungkin![26]

LEBIH BAIK MEMPERBANYAK THAWAF
Berdasarkan alasan-alasan di atas, menjadi jelas bahwa thawaf lebih utama. Adapun berumrah dari Mekkah dan meninggalkan thawaf tidak mustahab. Dan yang disunnahkan adalah thawaf, bukan umrah.

Syaikhul Islam Ibnu Taimiyah menambahkan : “Thawaf mengelilingi Ka’bah lebih utama daripada umrah bagi orang yang berada di Mekkah, merupakan perkara yang tidak diragukan lagi oleh orang-orang yang memahami Sunnah Rasulullah dan Sunnah Khalifah pengganti beliau dan para sahabat, serta generasi Salaf dan tokoh-tokohnya”.

Alasannya, kata beliau rahimahullah, karena thawaf di Baitullah merupakan ibadah dan qurbah (cara untuk mendekatkan diri kepada Allah) yang paling afdhal yang telah Allah tetapkan di dalam KitabNya, berdasarkan keterangan NabiNya. Thawaf termasuk ibadah paling utama bagi penduduk Mekkah. Maksudnya, yaitu orang-orang yang berada di Mekkah, baik penduduk asli maupun pendatang. Thawaf juga termasuk ibadah istimewa yang tidak bisa dilakukan oleh orang-orang yang berada di kota lainnnya.

Orang-orang yang berada di Mekkah sejak masa Rasulullah dan masa para khulafa senantiasa menjalankan thawaf setiap saat. Dan lagi, Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam memerintahkan kepada pihak yang bertanggung jawab atas Baitullah, agar tidak menghalangi siapapun yang ingin mengerjakan thawaf pada setiap waktu. Beliau bersabda:

يَا بَنِي عَبْدِ مَنَافٍ لَا تَمْنَعُوا أَحَدًا طَافَ بِهَذَا الْبَيْتِ وَصَلَّى فِيْ أَيِّ سَاعَةٍ شَاءَ مِنْ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ

"Wahai Bani Abdi Manaf, janganlah kalian menghalangi seorang pun untuk melakukan thawaf di Ka'bah dan mengerjakan shalat pada saat kapan pun, baik malam maupun siang" [27]

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala memerintahkan Nabi Ibrahim dan Nabi Ismail dengan berfirman :

"Dan bersihkanlah rumahKu untuk orang-orang yang thawaf, yang i'tikaf, yang ruku', dan yang sujud" [al Baqarah/2:125]

Dalam ayat yang lain:

"Dan sucikanlah rumahKu ini bagi orang-orang yang thawaf, dan orang-orang yang beribadah dan orang-orang yang ruku' dan sujud" [al Hajj/22:26]

Pada dua ayat di atas, Allah menyebutkan tiga ibadah di Baitullah, yaitu : thawaf, i’tikaf dan ruku’ bersama sujud, dengan mengedepankan yang paling istimewa terlebih dahulu, yaitu thawaf. Karena sesungguhnya, thawaf tidak disyariatkan kecuali di Baitil ‘Atiq (rumah tua, Ka’bah) berdasarkan kesepakatan para ulama. Begitu juga para ulama bersepakat, thawaf tidak boleh dilakukan di tempat selain Ka'bah. Adapun i’tikaf, bisa dilaksanakan di masjid-masjid lain. Begitu pula ruku' dan sujud, dapat dikerjakan di mana saja. Nabi bersabda:

وَجُعِلَتْ لِيَ الْأَرْضُ مَسْجِدًا وَ طَهُورًا

"Dijadikan tanah sebagai masjid dan tempat pensuci bagi diriku" [HR. al-Bukhari - Muslim]

Maksudnya, Allah Subhanhu wa Ta'ala mengutamakan perkara yang paling khusus dengan tempat tersebut. Sehingga mendahulukan penyebutan thawaf. Karena ibadah thawaf hanya berlaku khusus di Masjidil Haram. Baru kemudian disebutkan i’tikaf. Sebab bisa dikerjakan di Masjidil Haram dan masjid-masjid lainnya yang dipakai kaum Muslimin untuk mengerjakan shalat lima waktu. Selanjutnya, disebutkan ibadah shalat. Karena tempat pelaksanaannya lebih umum.

Selain itu, thawaf merupakan rangkaian manasik yang lebih sering terulang. Disyariatkan thawaf Qudum bagi orang yang baru sampai di kota Mekkah. Dan disyariatkan thawaf Wada’ bagi orang yang akan meninggalkan kota Mekkah usai pelaksanaan manasik haji. Disamping keberadaan thawaf ifadhah yang menjadi salah satu rukun haji.[28]

Secara khusus, tentang keutamaan thawaf di Baitullah, Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda :

مَنْ طَافَ بِهَذَا الْبَيْتِ سَبْعًا كَعِدْلِ رَقَبَةٍ

"Barangsiapa mengelilingi rumah ini (Ka’bah) tujuh kali, seperti membebaskan satu budak belian" [29].

Kesimpulannya : Memperbanyak thawaf merupakan ibadah sunnah, lagi diperintahkan. Terutama bagi orang yang datang ke Mekkah. Jumhur ulama berpendapat, thawaf di Ka’bah lebih utama dibandingkan shalat di Masjidil Haram, meskipun shalat di sana sangat besar keutamaannya.[30]

Pendapat yang mengatakan tidak disyari’atkan melakukan thawaf berulangkali, inilah yang ditunjukkan oleh Sunnah Nabawiyah yang bersifat ‘amaliyah, dan didukung oleh fi’il (perbuatan) para sahabat Radhiyallahu 'anhum. Dan Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam telah memerintahkan kita agar mengikuti Sunnah beliau Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dan sunnah para khalifahnya sepeninggal beliau Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Yaitu beliau bersabda : Hendaklah kalian berpegang teguh dengan Sunnahku dan sunnah para khalifah yang mendapat petunjuk dan terbimbing sepeninggalku. Hendaklah kalian menggigitnya dengan gigi gerahammu. [Sunan Abu Dawud, II/398, no. 4607; Ibnu Majah, I/16, no. 42 dan 43; Tirmidzi, V/43, no. 2673; Ahmad, IV/26.] [31]

Oleh karena itu, ketika berada di Mekkah sebelum atau sesudah pelaksanaan haji, yang paling baik bagi kita ialah memperbanyak thawaf, daripada melakukan perbuatan yang tidak ada contohnya. Wallahu a'lam bish-shawab.

Maraji :
- Al Wajiz fi Fiqhis Sunnah wal Kitabil ‘Aziz, Dr Abdul 'Azhim Badawi Dar Ibni Rajab, Cet. III, Th. 1421 H – 2001 M.
- Fatawa li Ahlil Haram, susunan Dakhil bin Bukhait al Mutharrifi.
- Syarhul Mumti’ ‘ala Zadil Mustaqni’, Syaikh Muhammad bin Shalih al ‘Utsaimin, Muassasah A-sam, Cet. I, Th. 1416 H – 1996 M.
- Majmu al Fatawa, Syaikhul Islam Ibnu Taimiyah, Cet. I, Th. 1423 H. Tanpa penerbit.
- Zadul Ma’ad fi Hadyi Khairil ‘Ibad, Muhammad bin Abi Bakr Ibnul Qayyim. Tahqiq Syu’aib al Arnauth dan ‘Abdul Qadir al Arnauth, Muassasah ar Risalah, Cet. III, Th. 1421 H – 2001 M.
- Shahih Sunan an Nasaa-i, Muhammad Nashiruddin al Albani, Maktabah Ma'arif, Cet. I, Th. 1419H –1998M.
- Shahih Sunan at Tirmidzi, Muhammad Nashiruddin al Albani, Maktabah Ma'arif Cet. I, Th. 1419H – 1998M.
- Shahih Sunan Ibni Majah, Muhammad Nashiruddin al Albani, Maktabah Ma'arif, Cet. I, Th. 1419H – 1998M.

[Disalin dari majalah As-Sunnah Edisi 09/Tahun X/1427H/2006. Diterbitkan Yayasan Lajnah Istiqomah Surakarta, Jl. Solo – Purwodadi Km.8 Selokaton Gondangrejo Solo 57183 Telp. 0271-761016]
_________
Footnotes
[1]. Fatawa al 'Utsaimin, 2/668.
[2]. Lihat penjelasan Dr. Muhammad bin Abdir Rahman al Khumayyis dalam adz Dzikril Jama’i Bainal Ittiba’ wal Ibtida’, halaman 7-8.
[3]. Shahih. Lihat Shahih Sunan at Tirmidzi, no. 816; Shahih Sunan Ibni Majah, no. 2450.
[4]. Zadul Ma’ad, 2/89.
[5]. Umrah ini dikenal dengan nama umrah Qadha` atau Qadhiyah, karena kaum muslimin telah mengikat perjanjian dengan kaum Quraisy. Bukan untuk mengqadha (menggantikan) umrah tahun sebelumnya yang dihalangi oleh
kaum Quraisy. Karena umrah tersebut tidak rusak sehingga tidak perlu diganti. Buktinya, Nabi tidak memerintahkan para sahabat yang ikut serta dalam umrah pertama untuk mengulanginya kembali pada umrah ini. Oleh sebab itu, para ulama menghitung jumlah umrah Nabi sebanyak empat kali. Demikian penjelasan as Suhaili. Pendapat inilah yang dirajihkan oleh Ibnul Qayyim dalam Zadul Ma’ad, 2/86.
[6]. Majmu al Fatawa, 26/253-254; Zadul Ma’ad, 2/86.
[7]. Majmu ‘ al Fatawa, jilid 26. Pembahasan tentang umrah bagi orang-orang yang berada di Mekkah terdapat di halaman 248-290; asy Syarhul Mumti’, 7/407.
[8]. Fatawa al 'Utsaimin, 2/668, dikutip dari Fatawa li Ahlil Haram.
[9]. Majmu' al Fatawa, 26/252.
[10]. Majmu’ al Fatawa, 26/254.
[11]. Lihat Majmu’ al Fatawa, 26/256. 273.
[12]. Zaadul Ma’ad, 2/89.
[13]. Majmu' al Fatawa, 26/252.
[14]. Zaadul Ma’ad, 2/163.
[15]. Dikutip dari al Wajiz, halaman 268.
[16]. Atha bin Abi Rabah Aslam al-Qurasyi al Fihri, dari kalangan generasi Tabi'in. Berguru kepada sejumlah sahabat Nabi. Diantara mereka, Jabir bin Abdillah, Ibnu Abbas, Abu Hurairah, Abu Sa'id al Khudri, Abdullah bin Amr bin al Ash, Abdullah bin Zubair. Seorang Mufri Mekkah di zamannya dan dikenal sebagai orang yang paling tahu tentang manasik haji. Wafat tahun 114H
[17]. Thawus bin Kaisan al Yamani, berdarah Persia, dari kalangan generasi Tabi'in, berguru kepada sejumlah sahabat, mislnya, Ibnu Abbas, Jabir bin Abdillah, Zaid bin Tsabit, Abdullah bin Zubair, Muad bin Jabal. Aisyah seorang ahli fiqih di zamannya. Wafat tahun 106H
[18]. Majmu' al Fatawa, 26/256-258.
[19]. Ibid, 26/262.
[20]. Ibid, 2/264.
[21]. Ibid, 26/264.
[22]. Ibid, 26/266.
[23]. Ibid, 26/270.
[24]. HR al Bukhari, no. 1773 dan Muslim, no. 1349.
[25]. Asy Syarhul Mumti’, 7/408.
[26]. Fatawa al 'Utsaimin, 2/668, dikutip dari Fatawa li Ahlil Haram.
[27]. Shahih, hadits riwayat at Tirmidzi, 869; an Nasaa-i, 1/284; Ibnu Majah, 1254
[28]. Majmu’ al Fatawa, 26/250-252 secara ringkas.
[29]. Shahih. Lihat Shahih Sunan an Nasaa-i, no. 2919.
[30]. Majmu' al Fatawa, 26/290.
[31]. Al Wajiz, halaman 268.

Baca Artikel Lainnya : PERBEKALAN UNTUK JAMAAH HAJI

ALASAN TIDAK MELAKUKAN UMRAH BERULANG KALI SAAT BERADA DI MEKKAH

Saco-Indonesia.com — Matahari seperti sedang 'mengamuk". Dalam 24 jam, terhitung sejak Senin (13/3/2013) hingga Selasa (14/5/2013), Matahari telah menghasilkan tiga badai Matahari.

Laporan NASA pada Selasa hari ini menyatakan bahwa badai Matahari tersebut adalah badai terbesar sejak awal 2013 hingga bulan Mei ini. Ketiga badai Matahari itu termasuk dalam kelas X, golongan badai Matahari paling kuat.

Badai Matahari pertama terjadi pada Senin kemarin sekitar pukul 9.17 WIB. Badai pertama termasuk kelas X 1,7. Sementara badai kedua terjadi pada hari yang sama sekitar pukul 23.09 WIB, termasuk kelas 2,8.

Badai Matahari kelas X 2 dua kali lebih besar dari X 1, sedangkan kelas X 3 tiga kali lebih besar dari kelas X 1.

Badai Matahari terkini terjadi Selasa pagi ini sekitar pukul 08.17 WIB. Jika sebelumnya hanya masuk kelas X 1 dan X 2, badai Matahari terkini itu masuk kelas X 3,2. Inilah badai Matahari terbesar tahun 2013.

Fenomena badai Matahari ini terdeteksi oleh satelit Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Sumber badai Matahari sendiri adalah bintik Matahari AR 1748 yang terbentuk seminggu lalu. Bintik ini tak terdeteksi sebelumnya karena terbentuk di sisi Matahari yang tak menghadap Bumi.

NASA menyatakan bahwa badai Matahari tak mengarah ke Bumi sehingga tak akan menimbulkan dampak apa pun.

NASA juga menyatakan bahwa jika pun badai Matahari mengarah ke Bumi tak ada bencana yang akan terjadi. Gangguan yang muncul akibat badai Matahari adalah pada komunikasi. Pada tahun 1989, badai Matahari membuat listrik di wilayah Quebec, Kanada, mati.

Dampak paling serius akibat tiga badai Matahari ini adalah pada komunikasi satelit Spitzer dan wahana Deep Impact. Badai diperkirakan akan sampai di satelit tersebut pada 15 atau 16 Mei 2013 mendatang. NASA berencana untuk menonaktifkan satelit itu sementara.

Badai Matahari, seperti diketahui, berbeda dengan pengertian badai yang terjadi di Bumi. Badai Matahari adalah pancaran gelombang elektromagnetik terkait dengan fenomena Lontaran Massa Korona yang sanggup melemparkan partikel berenergi tinggi dari Matahari ke antariksa.

Editor :Liwon Maulana(galipat)
Matahari "Mengamuk", 3 Badai Matahari dalam 24 Jam

JAKARTA, Saco-Indonesia.com — Ketua DPRD DKI Jakarta Ferrial Sofyan membenarkan adanya rencana kunjungan kerja DPRD DKI Jakarta ke tiga negara. Namun, kunjungan itu terancam gagal karena keterbatasan anggaran.

"Sampai saat ini belum bisa kita laksanakan itu. Kenapa? Karena terbentur pada biayanya," ujar Ferrial kepada wartawan, Senin (3/6/2013).

Ferrial mengatakan, kunjungan kerja ke luar negri bukanlah sesuatu yang patut dipermasalahkan. Menurutnya, kunjungan tersebut bertujuan untuk menggali referensi proyek pembangunan sejenis dengan proyek yang akan dikerjakan di Jakarta. Ferrial mencontohkan, saat proyek transjakarta pertama kali berjalan, ada tim dari Pemerintah Provinsi DKI dan DPRD yang melakukan kunjungan kerja ke Bogota, Kolombia. Kala itu, Bogota dianggap jadi salah satu kota yang memiliki transportasi jenis bus terintegrasi secara baik bagi masyarakatnya.

"Dalam kasus ini, misalnya monorel. Kita mau tahu yang dibangun bagaimana, apa beban bagi masyarakat terhadap pembangunan monorel itu. Jadi, memang seharusnya dilakukan (studi banding) itu," ujarnya.

Rencana kunjungan kerja DPRD DKI itu bakal dilakukan di Belanda, Malaysia, dan China. Kunjungan tersebut bukan termasuk ke dalam kunjungan kerja ke lima sister city di tiga negara yang telah direncanakan dalam APBD DKI 2013. Adapun kunjungan kerja ke Belanda, Malaysia, dan China itu ternyata tidak dianggarkan dalam APBD DKI 2013. Padahal, sejak satu bulan lalu, pimpinan DPRD DKI telah berkirim surat ke tiap-tiap fraksi di DPRD untuk menunjuk anggotanya yang ikut dalam kunjungan kerja ke tiga negara tersebut.

Editor : Liwon Maulana

Sumber:Kompas.com

Tidak Ada Dana, Studi Banding DPRD DKI Terancam Gagal

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ate in February, Dr. Ben Carson, the celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon turned political insurrectionist, was trying to check off another box on his presidential-campaign to-do list: hiring a press secretary. The lead prospect, a public-relations specialist named Deana Bass, had come to meet him at the dimly lit Capitol Hill office of Carson’s confidant and business manager, Armstrong Williams. Carson sat back and scrutinized her from behind a small granite table, as life-size cardboard cutouts of more conventional politicians — President Obama, with a tight smile, and Senator John McCain, glowering — loomed behind each of his shoulders. (The mock $3 bill someone had left on a table in Williams’s waiting room undercut any notion that this was a bipartisan zone; it featured Obama wearing a turban.)

Bass seemed momentarily speechless, and not just because no one had warned her that a New York Times reporter would be sitting in on her job interview. Though she knew Williams — a jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur who owns several television stations and a public-affairs business and who hosts a daily talk-radio show — through Washington’s small circle of black conservatives, the two hadn’t spoken in years until he called her two days earlier. He had been struggling to come up with the perfect national spokesperson, he told her. Then, at the gym, her name popped into his head; Williams was fairly certain she was the one. Sitting across from a likely candidate for president, Bass was adjusting to the idea that her life might be about to take a sudden chaotic turn.

“It’s like getting the most random call on a Monday that you simply do not see coming,” she said. “Oftentimes, that is how the Lord works.”

Continue reading the main story

His life in brain surgery
has prepared him for the
presidency, he maintains,
better than lives in
politics have for his rivals.

Carson concurred: “It’s always how he works in my life.” Carson is soft-spoken and often talks with his eyes half closed, frequently punctuating his sentences with a small laugh, even if the humor of his statement is not readily apparent. Bass told Carson that she had been a Republican staff member on Capitol Hill then worked for the Republican National Committee. In 2007 she started a Christian public-relations firm with her sister. She enjoyed working on the Hill, she said, but the pay wasn’t as high as the hours were long. “We figured that we worked like slaves for other people, and we wanted to work for ourselves.”

Carson stopped her. “You know you can’t mention that word, right?” Carson waited a beat, then laughed, and Williams and Bass joined in. He was getting to the point; he needed a professional who could help him check his penchant for creating uncontrolled controversy just by talking.

The Ben Carson movement began in 2013, when Carson, a neurosurgeon, whose operating-room prowess and up-from-poverty back story had made him the subject of a television movie and a regular on the inspirational-speaking circuit, was invited to address the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. With Barack Obama sitting just two seats away, Carson warned that “moral decay” and “fiscal irresponsibility” could destroy America just as it did ancient Rome. He proposed a substitute for Obamacare — Health Savings Accounts, which, he said, would end any talk of “death panels” — and a flat-tax based on the concept of tithing. His address, combined with the president’s stony reaction, was a smash with Republican activists. Speaking and interview requests flooded in. Carson, then 61, announced his planned retirement a few weeks later, freeing his calendar to accept just about all of them. In the months that followed, his rhetoric became increasingly strident. The claim that drew the most attention, perhaps, was that Obamacare was “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

Bass’s own use of the word prompted Carson to ask her what she thought about that incident. She considered for a moment.

“If you want to reach people and have them even understand what you’re saying, there is a way to do it, without that hyperbole, that might be. . . . ” She paused. “I just think it’s important not to shut people off before they —”

Carson jumped in. “That doesn’t allow them to hear what you’re saying?”

Bass nodded.

Likening Obamacare to slavery — and slavery was incomparably worse, Carson said — had its political advantages for a candidacy like his. It was the kind of statement that stoked the angriest of the Republican voters: conservative stalwarts who can’t hear enough bad things about Obama. This, in turn, led to more talk-radio and Fox News appearances, more book sales, more donations to the super PAC started in his name, more support in the polls. (The day before the meeting, one poll of Republican voters showed Carson statistically tied for first place with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.)

Rhetorical excess was good for business, but Carson now wants to be seen as more than a novelty candidate. He has come to learn that such extreme analogies, while true to his views, aren’t especially presidential. They alienate more moderate voters and, perhaps even more damaging, reinforce the impression that he is not “serious” — that he is another Herman Cain, the black former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive who rose to the top of the early presidential polls in 2011 but then bowed out before the Iowa caucuses, largely because of leaked allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied but from which he never recovered. Cain lingers as a cautionary tale for the party as much as for a right-leaning candidate like Carson. The fact that Cain, with his folksy sayings (“shucky ducky”) and misnomers (“Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan”), reached the top of the national polls — much less that he was eventually followed there by the likes of Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who all topped one or another poll in the 2012 primary season — wound up being a considerable embarrassment for the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, and for the longtime party regulars who were trying to fast-track his way to the nomination.

Carson liked Bass and, without directly saying so, made it clear the job was hers for the taking. Carson’s campaign chairman, Terry Giles — a white lawyer whose clients have included the comedian Richard Pryor and the stepson of the model Anna Nicole Smith and who helped reconcile the business interests of the descendants of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — had assembled a mostly white campaign team, including many from the 2012 Gingrich effort, and Carson wanted a person of color to speak for him. Bass said she would have to mull it over, pray about it. Carson nodded approvingly. “Pray about it,” he said. “See what you think.”

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Williams knew the party was intent on protecting the eventual 2016 nominee from the same embarrassment Romney suffered. Already, suspiciously tough articles about Carson were showing up in conservative magazines and on right-wing websites. “They’re protecting these establishment candidates,” Williams said. “This is coming from within the house. This is family.” At the very least, he wanted to make sure that Carson didn’t do their work for them. (Carson would commit another unforced error a week later, when he told CNN that homosexuality was clearly a choice, because a lot of people go in prison straight and “when they come out, they’re gay”; he later apologized.)

“We need somebody to protect him, sometimes, from himself,” he told Bass — laughing, but only half kidding.

A candidacy like Carson’s presents a new kind of problem to the establishment wing of the G.O.P., which, at least since 1980, has selected its presidential nominees with a routine efficiency that Democrats could only envy. The establishment candidate has usually been a current or former governor or senator, blandly Protestant, hailing from the moderate, big-business wing of the party (or at least friendly with it) and almost always a second-, third- or fourth-time national contender — someone who had waited “his turn.” These candidates would tack predictably to the right during the primaries to satisfy the evangelicals, deficit hawks, libertarian leaners and other inconvenient but vital constituents who made up the “base” of the party. In return, the base would, after a brief flirtation with some fantasy candidate like Steve Forbes or Pat Buchanan, “hold their noses” and deliver their votes come November. This bargain was always tenuous, of course, and when some of the furthest-right activists turned against George W. Bush, citing (among other apostasies) his expansion of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, it began to fall apart. After Barack Obama defeated McCain in 2008, the party’s once dependable base started to reconsider the wisdom of holding their noses at all.

Photo
 
Republican candidates at a pre-straw-poll debate, held at Iowa State University in 2011. Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This insurgent attitude was helped along by changes in the nomination rules. In 2010, the Republican National Committee, hoping to capture the excitement of the coast-to-coast Democratic primary competition between Obama and Hillary Clinton, introduced new voting rules that required many of the early voting states to award some delegates to losing candidates, based on their shares of the vote. The proportional voting rules would encourage struggling candidates to stay in the primaries even after successive losses, as Clinton did, because they might be able to pull together enough delegates to take the nomination in a convention-floor fight or at least use them to bargain for a prime speaking slot or cabinet post.

This shift in incentives did not go unnoticed by potential 2012 candidates, nor did changes in election law that allowed billionaire donors to form super PACs in support of pet candidacies. At the same time, increasingly widespread broadband Internet access allowed candidates to reach supporters directly with video and email appeals and supporters to send money with the tap of a smartphone, making it easier than ever for individual candidates to ignore the wishes of the party.

Into this newly chaotic Republican landscape strode Mitt Romney. There could be no doubt that it was his turn, and yet his journey to the nomination was interrupted by one against-the-odds challenger after another — Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul; always Ron Paul. It was easy to dismiss the 2012 primaries as a meaningless circus, but the onslaught did much more than tarnish the overall Republican brand. It also forced Romney to spend money he could have used against Obama and defend his right flank with embarrassing pandering that shadowed him through the general election. It was while trying to block a surge from Gingrich, for instance, that Romney told a debate audience that he was for the “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants.

At the 2012 convention in Tampa, a group of longtime party hands, including Romney’s lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, gathered to discuss how to prevent a repeat of what had become known inside and outside the party as the “clown show.” Their aim was not just to protect the party but also to protect a potential President Romney from a primary challenge in 2016. They forced through new rules that would give future presumptive nominees more control over delegates in the event of a convention fight. They did away with the mandatory proportional delegate awards that encouraged long-shot candidacies. And, in a noticeably targeted effort, they raised the threshold that candidates needed to meet to enter their names into nomination, just as Ron Paul’s supporters were working to reach it. When John A. Boehner gaveled the rules in on a voice vote — a vote that many listeners heard as a tie, if not an outright loss — the hall erupted and a line of Ron Paul supporters walked off the floor in protest, along with many Tea Party members.

At a party meeting last winter, Reince Priebus, who as party chairman is charged with maintaining the support of all his constituencies, did restore some proportional primary and caucus voting, but only in states that held voting within a shortened two-week window. And he also condensed the nominating schedule to four and a half months from six months, and, for the first time required candidates to participate in a shortened debate schedule, determined by the party, not by the whims of the networks. (The panel that recommended those changes included names closely identified with the establishment — the former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, the Mississippi committeeman Haley Barbour and, notably, Jeb Bush’s closest adviser, Sally Bradshaw.)

Grass-roots activists have complained that the condensed schedule robs nonestablishment candidates — “movement candidates” like Carson — of the extra time they need to build momentum, money and organizations. But Priebus, who says the nomination could be close to settled by April, said it helped all the party’s constituencies when the nominee was decided quickly. “We don’t need a six-month slice-and-dice festival,” Priebus said when we spoke in mid-March. “While I can’t always control everyone’s mouth, I can control how long we can kill each other.”

All the rules changes were built to sidestep the problems of 2012. But the 2016 field is shaping up to be vastly different and far larger. A new Republican hints that he or she is considering a run seemingly every week. There are moderates like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Gov. George Pataki of New York; no-compromise conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; business-wingers like the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina; one-of-a-kinds like Donald Trump — some 20 in all, a dozen or so who seem fairly serious about it. That opens the possibility of multiple candidates vying for all the major Republican constituencies, some of them possibly goaded along by super-PAC-funding billionaires, all of them trading wins and collecting delegates well into spring.

Giles says his candidate can capitalize on all that chaos. Rivals may laugh, but Giles argues that if Carson can make a respectable showing in Iowa, then win in South Carolina — or at least come in second should a home-state senator, Lindsey Graham, run — and come in second behind Bush or Senator Marco Rubio in their home state of Florida, he could be positioned to make a real run. But that would depend on avoiding pitfalls like Carson’s ill-considered comments on homosexuality. Rather than capitalizing on the chaos, Carson may only contribute to it.

Ben Carson is, in many ways, the ideal Republican presidential candidate. With a not-too-selective reading of his life story, conservative voters can — and do — see in him an inspiring, up-from-nowhere African-American who shares their beliefs, a right-wing answer to Barack Obama. Before he was born, his parents moved to Detroit from rural Tennessee as part of the second great migration. His father, Robert Solomon Carson, worked at a Cadillac factory. His mother, Sonya — who herself had grown up as one of 24 children and left school at third grade — cleaned houses. When Carson was 8, Sonya discovered that Robert was keeping a second family. She moved, with her two sons, into a rundown group house. It was in a part of town that Carson described to me as crawling with “big rats and roaches and all kinds of horrible things.” Sonya worked several jobs at a time and made up the shortfall with food stamps. (Carson has called for paring back the social safety net but not doing away with it.)

Carson recounts this story in his best-selling 1990 memoir, “Gifted Hands,” which also became the basis for a 2009 movie on TNT, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Carson. Raised as a Seventh Day Adventist, Carson realized that he wanted to become a physician during a church sermon about a missionary doctor who, while serving overseas, was almost attacked by thieves but found safety by putting his faith in God. When Carson, then 8, told his mother his new dream, “She said, ‘Absolutely, you could do it, you could do anything,’ ” he told me. Forced by his mother to read two extra books a week, he made it to Yale, then to medical school at the University of Michigan, where he decided to specialize in neurosurgery. He was selected for residency at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, where he was named director of pediatric neurosurgery at 33, becoming the youngest person, and the first black person, to hold the title. He drew national attention by conducting a succession of operations that had never been performed successfully, most famously planning and managing the first separation of conjoined twins connected through major blood vessels in the brain.

Carson, a two-time Jimmy Carter voter, traces his conservative political awakening to a patient he met during the Reagan years. During a routine obstetrics rotation, he found himself treating an unwed pregnant teenager who had run away from her well-to-do parents. When Carson asked her how she was getting by, she informed him she was on public assistance; this led him to ponder the fact that the government was paying for the result of what he did not view as a “wise decision.” The incident, he says, fed his growing sense that the welfare system too often saps motivation and rewards irresponsible behavior. (When we spoke, he suggested that the government should cut off assistance to would-be unwed mothers, but only after warning them that it would do so within a certain amount of time, say five years. “I bet you’d see a dramatic decrease in unwed motherhood.”)

Carson’s friends at Hopkins say they do not remember him being particularly outspoken about his conservatism. He devoted most of his public engagement to urging poor kids in bad neighborhoods to use “these fancy brains God gave us,” through weekly school visits, student hospital tours and, ultimately, a multimillion-dollar scholarship program. “His issues were always medical care for the poor, education for the poor, equal opportunity — helping the less fortunate and really inspiring them as an example,” a mentor who named him to the chief pediatrics-neurosurgery post at Hopkins, Dr. Donlin Long, told me.

Even when Carson got the chance, in 1997, to speak in front of President Bill Clinton, at the national prayer breakfast, he mostly discussed the lack of role models for black children who were not sports stars or rappers. (There was possibly an oblique reference to Clinton’s sex scandals, when he told the audience that, if they are always honest, they won’t have to worry later about “skeletons in the closet.”)

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Ben Carson at CPAC on Feb. 26 in Oxon Hill, Md. Credit Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

In 2011, Carson’s politics took a strident turn, mirroring that of many in his party during the Obama years. “America the Beautiful,” his sixth book, which he wrote with Candy Carson, his wife of 39 years, included a get-tough-on-illegal-immigration message and offered anti-establishment praise for the Tea Party. It suggested that blacks who voted for Obama only because he was black were themselves practicing a form of racism. (Earlier this year he admitted to Buzzfeed that portions of the book were lifted directly from several sources without proper attribution.) His prayer-breakfast performance in 2013, and the extremity of his remarks in the months afterward (Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery; the United States is “very much like Nazi Germany”; allowing same-sex marriage could lead to allowing bestiality), left some of his old friends bewildered. Students at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine protested his planned convocation address there in 2013, and he eventually backed out. When I asked Carson about the view at Hopkins that he had changed, he said his themes are still the same: “hard work, self-reliance, helping other people.” If he had become more overtly political, he said, it was only because the Obama years had led him to believe that “we’re really moving in a direction that is very, very destructive.”

None of this went unnoticed by campaign professionals. In August 2013, John Philip Sousa IV and Vernon Robinson, each of whom professes to be a virtual stranger to Carson, and who had previously been active in the anti-illegal-immigration movement, started the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee. Sousa was just coming off a campaign to defend the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, from a recall effort, and he told me that he found Carson’s lack of political experience refreshing. “We have 500 guys and gals with probably a collective 5,000 years experience, and look at the mess we’re in,” he said.

Many others in the party feel the same way. Carson’s PAC finished 2014 with more than $13 million in donations, more than Ready for Hillary. Much of its money has gone toward further fund-raising, but Sousa — the great-grandson of the famous composer — points out that their effort has already built far more than just a war chest, organizing leaders in all 99 of Iowa’s counties. Regardless, Carson credits the fund-raising success of Sousa and Robinson with persuading him to enter the race.

Very early the morning after the job interview, Carson was in a black S.U.V., heading from Washington to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., where he was to give the opening candidate speech of the Conservative Political Action Conference. The event, which functions as an early tryout for Republican presidential contenders, tends to skew rightward in its audience, drawing many of the same sorts of people who shouted at Boehner in Tampa. As such, it tends to favor anti-establishment candidates, but the news leading up to this year’s event was that Jeb Bush hoped to make inroads there.

It was still dark when we set out, and I joked with Carson about the hour, telling him he’d better get used to it. He retorted that his career in pediatric brain surgery made him no stranger to early mornings. This is a big theme of Carson’s presidential pitch: that neither the rigors of the campaign nor those of the White House can faze a man who held children’s lives in his hands. His life in brain surgery has prepared him for the presidency, he maintains, better than lives in politics have for his rivals. At the very least, he says, it conditioned him against getting too worked up about any problem that isn’t life threatening. “I mean, it’s grueling, but interestingly enough, I don’t feel the pressure,” he said.

At the convention hall, we were quickly surrounded by admirers. Two women were already waiting to meet him — white, middle-aged volunteers for Carson’s super PAC, who had traveled from South Carolina. One of them, Chris Horne, was holding a dog-eared and taped Bible. A founding member of the Charleston Tea Party who went on to work for Gingrich’s successful South Carolina primary campaign in 2012, Horne lamented over the attacks that Carson was sure to face. “You served us, you served the Lord, just don’t let them steal that from you,” she said. Her friend told him, “You’ve got God behind you!” Such religious evocations trailed Carson constantly while I walked the CPAC floor with him. Evangelicals are impressed not only with his devotion to their politics but also with his career path; as one of them told me, what’s more pro-life than saving babies?

During our ride to the conference, Carson told me his speech was not looking to “feed the beast.” When his appointed time came, he kept his remarks as tame as promised. “Real compassion” meant “using our intellect” to help people “climb out of dependency and realize the American dream,” he said. The national debt is going to “destroy us,” Obamacare was about “redistribution and control,” but Republicans better come forward with their own alternative before they repeal it, he said.

Because his speech was first, and it started several minutes early, the auditorium was slow to fill. Still, the first day saw a crush of people seeking autographs and pictures as he roamed the hall. The Draft Carson committee’s 150 volunteers swarmed the auditorium, collecting emails and handing out “Run Ben Run” stickers. After a quick interview with Sean Hannity, the conservative-radio and Fox News host — his second in two days — Carson was off to Tampa.

In the hours that followed his talk, the hall offered a view in miniature of what the next 12 to 14 months might hold for the party. Chris Christie, sitting across from the tough-minded talk-radio host Laura Ingraham, boasted about his multiple vetoes of Planned Parenthood funding, his refusal to raise income taxes and his belief that “sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up.” Cruz, an audience favorite, warning his fellow Republicans against falling for a “squishy moderate,” declared, “Take all 125,000 I.R.S. agents and put ’em on our Southern border!” Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, surging in polls, boasted that if he could face down the 100,000 union supporters who protested his legislation limiting collective bargaining for public employees, he could certainly handle ISIS. The next day, the traditional CPAC favorite Rand Paul spoke, packing the hall with his supporters who chanted “President Paul.” He warned, counter to the overall hawkish tenor of the event, that “we should not succumb to the notion that a government inept at home will somehow become successful abroad.” But he also vowed to end foreign aid to countries whose citizens are seen burning American flags. “Not one penny more to these haters of America.”

Perhaps the defining moment came near the end of the conference, when Jeb Bush spoke. In a neat trick of political gamesmanship — and a show of establishment muscle — his team had bused in an ample cheering section for the dozens of cameras on hand for his appearance. But a small contingent of Tea Party activists and Rand Paul supporters staged a walk out. When Bush began a question-and-answer session, they turned and left the auditorium to chant “U.S.A., U.S.A.” in the hallway, led by a man in colonial garb waving a huge “Don’t Tread on Me” banner. Plenty of other detractors stayed in the hall and peppered Bush’s remarks with booing as he stood by positions unpopular with the conservative grass roots: support for the Common Core standards and an immigration overhaul that provides a “path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants. Bush took it all in good humor, but finally seemed to give up.

“For those who made an ‘oo’ sound — is that what it was? — I’m marking you down as neutral,” he said. “And I want to be your second choice.”

Bush strategists told me they would not repeat Romney’s mistakes. Of course they would love to glide to an early nomination, they said, but they are prepared for a long contest and won’t be wasting any energy bending under pressure from a Paul or a Cruz or a Carson.

No one doubts that the pressure will increase, though. Despite the best wishes of the party’s leaders, GOP primary voters have given little indication that they will narrow the field quickly.

Before I left, I spotted Newt Gingrich, himself a fleeting presidential front-runner during those strange primary days of 2012. I asked him whether he thought all the party maneuvering — all the attempts to change the rules and fast-track the process — would preclude someone from presenting the sort of outside primary challenge he had carried out in the last election.

“No,” he told me, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Look at where Ben Carson is right now.”

Jim Rutenberg is the chief political correspondent for the magazine. His most recent feature was about Megyn Kelly.

Ben Carson Says He’ll Seek 2016 G.O.P. Nomination

THE WRITERS ASHLEY AND JAQUAVIS COLEMAN know the value of a good curtain-raiser. The couple have co-authored dozens of novels, and they like to start them with a bang: a headlong action sequence, a blast of violence or sex that rocks readers back on their heels. But the Colemans concede they would be hard-pressed to dream up anything more gripping than their own real-life opening scene.

In the summer of 2001, JaQuavis Coleman was a 16-year-old foster child in Flint, Mich., the former auto-manufacturing mecca that had devolved, in the wake of General Motors’ plant closures, into one of the country’s most dangerous cities, with a decimated economy and a violent crime rate more than three times the national average. When JaQuavis was 8, social services had removed him from his mother’s home. He spent years bouncing between foster families. At 16, JaQuavis was also a businessman: a crack dealer with a network of street-corner peddlers in his employ.

One day that summer, JaQuavis met a fellow dealer in a parking lot on Flint’s west side. He was there to make a bulk sale of a quarter-brick, or “nine-piece” — a nine-ounce parcel of cocaine, with a street value of about $11,000. In the middle of the transaction, JaQuavis heard the telltale chirp of a walkie-talkie. His customer, he now realized, was an undercover policeman. JaQuavis jumped into his car and spun out onto the road, with two unmarked police cars in pursuit. He didn’t want to get into a high-speed chase, so he whipped his car into a church parking lot and made a run for it, darting into an alleyway behind a row of small houses, where he tossed the quarter-brick into some bushes. When JaQuavis reached the small residential street on the other side of the houses, he was greeted by the police, who handcuffed him and went to search behind the houses where, they told him, they were certain he had ditched the drugs. JaQuavis had been dealing since he was 12, had amassed more than $100,000 and had never been arrested. Now, he thought: It’s over.

But when the police looked in the bushes, they couldn’t find any cocaine. They interrogated JaQuavis, who denied having ever possessed or sold drugs. They combed the backyard alley some more. After an hour of fruitless efforts, the police were forced to unlock the handcuffs and release their suspect.

JaQuavis was baffled by the turn of events until the next day, when he received a phone call. The previous afternoon, a 15-year-old girl had been sitting in her home on the west side of Flint when she heard sirens. She looked out of the window of her bedroom, and watched a young man throw a package in the bushes behind her house. She recognized him. He was a high school classmate — a handsome, charismatic boy whom she had admired from afar. The girl crept outside and grabbed the bundle, which she hid in her basement. “I have something that belongs to you,” Ashley Snell told JaQuavis Coleman when she reached him by phone. “You wanna come over here and pick it up?”

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Three of the nearly 50 works of urban fiction published by the Colemans over the last decade, often featuring drug deals, violence, sex and a brash kind of feminism.Credit Marko Metzinger

In the Colemans’ first novel, “Dirty Money” (2005), they told a version of this story. The outline was the same: the drug deal gone bad, the dope chucked in the bushes, the fateful phone call. To the extent that the authors took poetic license, it was to tone down the meet-cute improbability of the true-life events. In “Dirty Money,” the girl, Anari, and the crack dealer, Maurice, circle each other warily for a year or so before coupling up. But the facts of Ashley and JaQuavis’s romance outstripped pulp fiction. They fell in love more or less at first sight, moved into their own apartment while still in high school and were married in 2008. “We were together from the day we met,” Ashley says. “I don’t think we’ve spent more than a week apart in total over the past 14 years.”

That partnership turned out to be creative and entrepreneurial as well as romantic. Over the past decade, the Colemans have published nearly 50 books, sometimes as solo writers, sometimes under pseudonyms, but usually as collaborators with a byline that has become a trusted brand: “Ashley & JaQuavis.” They are marquee stars of urban fiction, or street lit, a genre whose inner-city settings and lurid mix of crime, sex and sensationalism have earned it comparisons to gangsta rap. The emergence of street lit is one of the big stories in recent American publishing, a juggernaut that has generated huge sales by catering to a readership — young, black and, for the most part, female — that historically has been ill-served by the book business. But the genre is also widely maligned. Street lit is subject to a kind of triple snobbery: scorned by literati who look down on genre fiction generally, ignored by a white publishing establishment that remains largely indifferent to black books and disparaged by African-American intellectuals for poor writing, coarse values and trafficking in racial stereotypes.

But if a certain kind of cultural prestige is shut off to the Colemans, they have reaped other rewards. They’ve built a large and loyal fan base, which gobbles up the new Ashley & JaQuavis titles that arrive every few months. Many of those books are sold at street-corner stands and other off-the-grid venues in African-American neighborhoods, a literary gray market that doesn’t register a blip on best-seller tallies. Yet the Colemans’ most popular series now regularly crack the trade fiction best-seller lists of The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. For years, the pair had no literary agent; they sold hundreds of thousands of books without banking a penny in royalties. Still, they have earned millions of dollars, almost exclusively from cash-for-manuscript deals negotiated directly with independent publishing houses. In short, though little known outside of the world of urban fiction, the Colemans are one of America’s most successful literary couples, a distinction they’ve achieved, they insist, because of their work’s gritty authenticity and their devotion to a primal literary virtue: the power of the ripping yarn.

“When you read our books, you’re gonna realize: ‘Ashley & JaQuavis are storytellers,’ ” says Ashley. “Our tales will get your heart pounding.”

THE COLEMANS’ HOME BASE — the cottage from which they operate their cottage industry — is a spacious four-bedroom house in a genteel suburb about 35 miles north of downtown Detroit. The house is plush, but when I visited this past winter, it was sparsely appointed. The couple had just recently moved in, and had only had time to fully furnish the bedroom of their 4-year-old son, Quaye.

In conversation, Ashley and JaQuavis exude both modesty and bravado: gratitude for their good fortune and bootstrappers’ pride in having made their own luck. They talk a lot about their time in the trenches, the years they spent as a drug dealer and “ride-or-die girl” tandem. In Flint they learned to “grind hard.” Writing, they say, is merely a more elevated kind of grind.

“Instead of hitting the block like we used to, we hit the laptops,” says Ashley. “I know what every word is worth. So while I’m writing, I’m like: ‘Okay, there’s a hundred dollars. There’s a thousand dollars. There’s five thousand dollars.’ ”

They maintain a rigorous regimen. They each try to write 5,000 words per day, five days a week. The writers stagger their shifts: JaQuavis goes to bed at 7 p.m. and wakes up early, around 3 or 4 in the morning, to work while his wife and child sleep. Ashley writes during the day, often in libraries or at Starbucks.

They divide the labor in other ways. Chapters are divvied up more or less equally, with tasks assigned according to individual strengths. (JaQuavis typically handles character development. Ashley loves writing murder scenes.) The results are stitched together, with no editorial interference from one author in the other’s text. The real work, they contend, is the brainstorming. The Colemans spend weeks mapping out their plot-driven books — long conversations that turn into elaborate diagrams on dry-erase boards. “JaQuavis and I are so close, it makes the process real easy,” says Ashley. “Sometimes when I’m thinking of something, a plot point, he’ll say it out loud, and I’m like: ‘Wait — did I say that?’ ”

Their collaboration developed by accident, and on the fly. Both were bookish teenagers. Ashley read lots of Judy Blume and John Grisham; JaQuavis liked Shakespeare, Richard Wright and “Atlas Shrugged.” (Their first official date was at a Borders bookstore, where Ashley bought “The Coldest Winter Ever,” the Sister Souljah novel often credited with kick-starting the contemporary street-lit movement.) In 2003, Ashley, then 17, was forced to terminate an ectopic pregnancy. She was bedridden for three weeks, and to provide distraction and boost her spirits, JaQuavis challenged his girlfriend to a writing contest. “She just wasn’t talking. She was laying in bed. I said, ‘You know what? I bet you I could write a better book than you.’ My wife is real competitive. So I said, ‘Yo, all right, $500 bet.’ And I saw her eyes spark, like, ‘What?! You can’t write no better book than me!’ So I wrote about three chapters. She wrote about three chapters. Two days later, we switched.”

The result, hammered out in a few days, would become “Dirty Money.” Two years later, when Ashley and JaQuavis were students at Ferris State University in Western Michigan, they sold the manuscript to Urban Books, a street-lit imprint founded by the best-selling author Carl Weber. At the time, JaQuavis was still making his living selling drugs. When Ashley got the phone call informing her that their book had been bought, she assumed they’d hit it big, and flushed more than $10,000 worth of cocaine down the toilet. Their advance was a mere $4,000.

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The roots of street lit, found in the midcentury detective novels of Chester Himes and the ‘60s and ‘70s “ghetto fiction” of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.Credit Marko Metzinger

Those advances would soon increase, eventually reaching five and six figures. The Colemans built their career, JaQuavis says, in a manner that made sense to him as a veteran dope peddler: by flooding the street with product. From the start, they were prolific, churning out books at a rate of four or five a year. Their novels made their way into stores; the now-defunct chain Waldenbooks, which had stores in urban areas typically bypassed by booksellers, was a major engine of the street-lit market. But Ashley and JaQuavis took advantage of distribution channels established by pioneering urban fiction authors such as Teri Woods and Vickie Stringer, and a network of street-corner tables, magazine stands, corner shops and bodegas. Like rappers who establish their bona fides with gray-market mixtapes, street-lit authors use this system to circumnavigate industry gatekeepers, bringing their work straight to the genre’s core readership. But urban fiction has other aficionados, in less likely places. “Our books are so popular in the prison system,” JaQuavis says. “We’re banned in certain penitentiaries. Inmates fight over the books — there are incidents, you know? I have loved ones in jail, and they’re like: ‘Yo, your books can’t come in here. It’s against the rules.’ ”

The appeal of the Colemans’ work is not hard to fathom. The books are formulaic and taut; they deliver the expected goods efficiently and exuberantly. The titles telegraph the contents: “Diary of a Street Diva,” “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” “Murderville.” The novels serve up a stream of explicit sex and violence in a slangy, tangy, profane voice. In Ashley & JaQuavis’s books people don’t get killed: they get “popped,” “laid out,” get their “cap twisted back.” The smut is constant, with emphasis on the earthy, sticky, olfactory particulars. Romance novel clichés — shuddering orgasms, heroic carnal feats, superlative sexual skill sets — are rendered in the Colemans’ punchy patois.

Subtlety, in other words, isn’t Ashley & JaQuavis’s forte. But their books do have a grainy specificity. In “The Cartel” (2008), the first novel in the Colemans’ best-selling saga of a Miami drug syndicate, they catch the sights and smells of a crack workshop in a housing project: the nostril-stinging scent of cocaine and baking soda bubbling on stovetops; the teams of women, stripped naked except for hospital masks so they can’t pilfer the merchandise, “cutting up the cooked coke on the round wood table.” The subject matter is dark, but the Colemans’ tone is not quite noir. Even in the grimmest scenes, the mood is high-spirited, with the writers palpably relishing the lewd and gory details: the bodies writhing in boudoirs and crumpling under volleys of bullets, the geysers of blood and other bodily fluids.

The luridness of street lit has made it a flashpoint, inciting controversy reminiscent of the hip-hop culture wars of the 1980s and ’90s. But the street-lit debate touches deeper historical roots, reviving decades-old arguments in black literary circles about the mandate to uplift the race and present wholesome images of African-Americans. In 1928, W. E. B. Du Bois slammed the “licentiousness” of “Home to Harlem,” Claude McKay’s rollicking novel of Harlem nightlife. McKay’s book, Du Bois wrote, “for the most part nauseates me, and after the dirtier parts of its filth I feel distinctly like taking a bath.” Similar sentiments have greeted 21st-century street lit. In a 2006 New York Times Op-Ed essay, the journalist and author Nick Chiles decried “the sexualization and degradation of black fiction.” African-American bookstores, Chiles complained, are “overrun with novels that . . . appeal exclusively to our most prurient natures — as if these nasty books were pairing off back in the stockrooms like little paperback rabbits and churning out even more graphic offspring that make Ralph Ellison books cringe into a dusty corner.”

Copulating paperbacks aside, it’s clear that the street-lit debate is about more than literature, touching on questions of paternalism versus populism, and on middle-class anxieties about the black underclass. “It’s part and parcel of black elites’ efforts to define not only a literary tradition, but a racial politics,” said Kinohi Nishikawa, an assistant professor of English and African-American Studies at Princeton University. “There has always been a sense that because African-Americans’ opportunities to represent themselves are so limited in the first place, any hint of criminality or salaciousness would necessarily be a knock on the entire racial politics. One of the pressing debates about African-American literature today is: If we can’t include writers like Ashley & JaQuavis, to what extent is the foundation of our thinking about black literature faulty? Is it just a literature for elites? Or can it be inclusive, bringing urban fiction under the purview of our umbrella term ‘African-American literature’?”

Defenders of street lit note that the genre has a pedigree: a tradition of black pulp fiction that stretches from Chester Himes, the midcentury author of hardboiled Harlem detective stories, to the 1960s and ’70s “ghetto fiction” of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines, to the current wave of urban fiction authors. Others argue for street lit as a social good, noting that it attracts a large audience that might otherwise never read at all. Scholars like Nishikawa link street lit to recent studies showing increased reading among African-Americans. A 2014 Pew Research Center report found that a greater percentage of black Americans are book readers than whites or Latinos.

For their part, the Colemans place their work in the broader black literary tradition. “You have Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, James Baldwin — all of these traditional black writers, who wrote about the struggles of racism, injustice, inequality,” says Ashley. “We’re writing about the struggle as it happens now. It’s just a different struggle. I’m telling my story. I’m telling the struggle of a black girl from Flint, Michigan, who grew up on welfare.”

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The Colemans in their new four-bedroom house in the northern suburbs of Detroit.Credit Courtesy of Ashley and JaQuavis Coleman

Perhaps there is a high-minded case to be made for street lit. But the virtues of Ashley & JaQuavis’s work are more basic. Their novels do lack literary polish. The writing is not graceful; there are passages of clunky exposition and sex scenes that induce guffaws and eye rolls. But the pleasure quotient is high. The books flaunt a garish brand of feminism, with women characters cast not just as vixens, but also as gangsters — cold-blooded killers, “murder mamas.” The stories are exceptionally well-plotted. “The Cartel” opens by introducing its hero, the crime boss Carter Diamond; on page 9, a gunshot spatters Diamond’s brain across the interior of a police cruiser. The book then flashes back seven years and begins to hurtle forward again — a bullet train, whizzing readers through shifting alliances, romantic entanglements and betrayals, kidnappings, shootouts with Haitian and Dominican gangsters, and a cliffhanger closing scene that leaves the novel’s heroine tied to a chair in a basement, gruesomely tortured to the edge of death. Ashley & JaQuavis’s books are not Ralph Ellison, certainly, but they build up quite a head of steam. They move.

The Colemans are moving themselves these days. They recently signed a deal with St. Martin’s Press, which will bring out the next installment in the “Cartel” series as well as new solo series by both writers. The St. Martin’s deal is both lucrative and legitimizing — a validation of Ashley and JaQuavis’s work by one of publishing’s most venerable houses. The Colemans’ ambitions have grown, as well. A recent trilogy, “Murderville,” tackles human trafficking and the blood-diamond industry in West Africa, with storylines that sweep from Sierra Leone to Mexico to Los Angeles. Increasingly, Ashley & JaQuavis are leaning on research — traveling to far-flung settings and hitting the books in the libraries — and spending less time mining their own rough-and-tumble past.

But Flint remains a source of inspiration. One evening not long ago, JaQuavis led me on a tour of his hometown: a popular roadside bar; the parking lot where he met the undercover cop for the ill-fated drug deal; Ashley’s old house, the site of his almost-arrest. He took me to a ramshackle vehicle repair shop on Flint’s west side, where he worked as a kid, washing cars. He showed me a bathroom at the rear of the garage, where, at age 12, he sneaked away to inspect the first “boulder” of crack that he ever sold. A spray-painted sign on the garage wall, which JaQuavis remembered from his time at the car wash, offered words of warning:

WHAT EVERY YOUNG MAN SHOULD KNOW
ABOUT USING A GUN:
MURDER . . . 30 Years
ARMED ROBBERY . . . 15 Years
ASSAULT . . . 15 Years
RAPE . . . 20 Years
POSSESSION . . . 5 Years
JACKING . . . 20 YEARS

“We still love Flint, Michigan,” JaQuavis says. “It’s so seedy, so treacherous. But there’s some heart in this city. This is where it all started, selling books out the box. In the days when we would get those little $40,000 advances, they’d send us a couple boxes of books for free. We would hit the streets to sell our books, right out of the car trunk. It was a hustle. It still is.”

One old neighborhood asset that the Colemans have not shaken off is swagger. “My wife is the best female writer in the game,” JaQuavis told me. “I believe I’m the best male writer in the game. I’m sleeping next to the best writer in the world. And she’s doing the same.”

 
From T Magazine: Street Lit’s Power Couple

Ms. Rendell was a prolific writer of intricately plotted mystery novels that combined psychological insight, social conscience and teeth-chattering terror.

Ruth Rendell, Novelist Who Thrilled and Educated, Dies at 85

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

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

A former member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Smedvig helped found the wide-ranging Empire Brass quintet.

Rolf Smedvig, Trumpeter in the Empire Brass, Dies at 62

WASHINGTON — The former deputy director of the C.I.A. asserts in a forthcoming book that Republicans, in their eagerness to politicize the killing of the American ambassador to Libya, repeatedly distorted the agency’s analysis of events. But he also argues that the C.I.A. should get out of the business of providing “talking points” for administration officials in national security events that quickly become partisan, as happened after the Benghazi attack in 2012.

The official, Michael J. Morell, dismisses the allegation that the United States military and C.I.A. officers “were ordered to stand down and not come to the rescue of their comrades,” and he says there is “no evidence” to support the charge that “there was a conspiracy between C.I.A. and the White House to spin the Benghazi story in a way that would protect the political interests of the president and Secretary Clinton,” referring to the secretary of state at the time, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But he also concludes that the White House itself embellished some of the talking points provided by the Central Intelligence Agency and had blocked him from sending an internal study of agency conclusions to Congress.

Photo
 
Michael J. Morell Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“I finally did so without asking,” just before leaving government, he writes, and after the White House released internal emails to a committee investigating the State Department’s handling of the issue.

A lengthy congressional investigation remains underway, one that many Republicans hope to use against Mrs. Clinton in the 2016 election cycle.

In parts of the book, “The Great War of Our Time” (Twelve), Mr. Morell praises his C.I.A. colleagues for many successes in stopping terrorist attacks, but he is surprisingly critical of other C.I.A. failings — and those of the National Security Agency.

Soon after Mr. Morell retired in 2013 after 33 years in the agency, President Obama appointed him to a commission reviewing the actions of the National Security Agency after the disclosures of Edward J. Snowden, a former intelligence contractor who released classified documents about the government’s eavesdropping abilities. Mr. Morell writes that he was surprised by what he found.

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“You would have thought that of all the government entities on the planet, the one least vulnerable to such grand theft would have been the N.S.A.,” he writes. “But it turned out that the N.S.A. had left itself vulnerable.”

He concludes that most Wall Street firms had better cybersecurity than the N.S.A. had when Mr. Snowden swept information from its systems in 2013. While he said he found himself “chagrined by how well the N.S.A. was doing” compared with the C.I.A. in stepping up its collection of data on intelligence targets, he also sensed that the N.S.A., which specializes in electronic spying, was operating without considering the implications of its methods.

“The N.S.A. had largely been collecting information because it could, not necessarily in all cases because it should,” he says.

The book is to be released next week.

Mr. Morell was a career analyst who rose through the ranks of the agency, and he ended up in the No. 2 post. He served as President George W. Bush’s personal intelligence briefer in the first months of his presidency — in those days, he could often be spotted at the Starbucks in Waco, Tex., catching up on his reading — and was with him in the schoolhouse in Florida on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when the Bush presidency changed in an instant.

Mr. Morell twice took over as acting C.I.A. director, first when Leon E. Panetta was appointed secretary of defense and then when retired Gen. David H. Petraeus resigned over an extramarital affair with his biographer, a relationship that included his handing her classified notes of his time as America’s best-known military commander.

Mr. Morell says he first learned of the affair from Mr. Petraeus only the night before he resigned, and just as the Benghazi events were turning into a political firestorm. While praising Mr. Petraeus, who had told his deputy “I am very lucky” to run the C.I.A., Mr. Morell writes that “the organization did not feel the same way about him.” The former general “created the impression through the tone of his voice and his body language that he did not want people to disagree with him (which was not true in my own interaction with him),” he says.

But it is his account of the Benghazi attacks — and how the C.I.A. was drawn into the debate over whether the Obama White House deliberately distorted its account of the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens — that is bound to attract attention, at least partly because of its relevance to the coming presidential election. The initial assessments that the C.I.A. gave to the White House said demonstrations had preceded the attack. By the time analysts reversed their opinion, Susan E. Rice, now the national security adviser, had made a series of statements on Sunday talk shows describing the initial assessment. The controversy and other comments Ms. Rice made derailed Mr. Obama’s plan to appoint her as secretary of state.

The experience prompted Mr. Morell to write that the C.I.A. should stay out of the business of preparing talking points — especially on issues that are being seized upon for “political purposes.” He is critical of the State Department for not beefing up security in Libya for its diplomats, as the C.I.A., he said, did for its employees.

But he concludes that the assault in which the ambassador was killed took place “with little or no advance planning” and “was not well organized.” He says the attackers “did not appear to be looking for Americans to harm. They appeared intent on looting and conducting some vandalism,” setting fires that killed Mr. Stevens and a security official, Sean Smith.

Mr. Morell paints a picture of an agency that was struggling, largely unsuccessfully, to understand dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa when the Arab Spring broke out in late 2011 in Tunisia. The agency’s analysts failed to see the forces of revolution coming — and then failed again, he writes, when they told Mr. Obama that the uprisings would undercut Al Qaeda by showing there was a democratic pathway to change.

“There is no good explanation for our not being able to see the pressures growing to dangerous levels across the region,” he writes. The agency had again relied too heavily “on a handful of strong leaders in the countries of concern to help us understand what was going on in the Arab street,” he says, and those leaders themselves were clueless.

Moreover, an agency that has always overvalued secretly gathered intelligence and undervalued “open source” material “was not doing enough to mine the wealth of information available through social media,” he writes. “We thought and told policy makers that this outburst of popular revolt would damage Al Qaeda by undermining the group’s narrative,” he writes.

Instead, weak governments in Egypt, and the absence of governance from Libya to Yemen, were “a boon to Islamic extremists across both the Middle East and North Africa.”

Mr. Morell is gentle about most of the politicians he dealt with — he expresses admiration for both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama, though he accuses former Vice President Dick Cheney of deliberately implying a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq that the C.I.A. had concluded probably did not exist. But when it comes to the events leading up to the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq, he is critical of his own agency.

Mr. Morell concludes that the Bush White House did not have to twist intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s alleged effort to rekindle the country’s work on weapons of mass destruction.

“The view that hard-liners in the Bush administration forced the intelligence community into its position on W.M.D. is just flat wrong,” he writes. “No one pushed. The analysts were already there and they had been there for years, long before Bush came to office.”

Ex-C.I.A. Official Rebuts Republican Claims on Benghazi Attack in ‘The Great War of Our Time’

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.

Photo
 
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.”

Photo
 
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

Fullmer, who reigned when fight clubs abounded and Friday night fights were a television staple, was known for his title bouts with Sugar Ray Robinson and Carmen Basilio.

Gene Fullmer, a Brawling Middleweight Champion, Dies at 83
Children playing last week in Sandtown-Winchester, the Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was raised. One young resident called it “a tough community.”
Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Children playing last week in Sandtown-Winchester, the Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was raised. One young resident called it “a tough community.”

Hard but Hopeful Home to ‘Lot of Freddies’

Hard but Hopeful Home to ‘Lot of Freddies’

Mr. King sang for the Drifters and found success as a solo performer with hits like “Spanish Harlem.”

Ben E. King, Soulful Singer of ‘Stand by Me,’ Dies at 76
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