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saco-indonesia.com, Tidak butuh waktu yang lama bagi Sriwijaya FC untuk mencari pengganti striker Serge Pacome Djiehoa yang batal dikontrak untuk tampil di kompetisi Indonesia Super League (ISL) musim 2014.

Manajer SFC, Robert Heri, telah menerangkan jika kandidat striker asing lainnya baru tiba di Palembang yakni tiga hari sesudah perayaan Natal pada 25 Desember.

"Saya belum bisa sebutkan sekarang siapa namanya. Pastinya, striker tersebut telah berasal dari benua Eropa berkulit putih," terang heri yang telah menjabat sebagai Kepala Dinas Pertambangan dan Energi Provinsi Sumatera Selatan tersebut.

"Yang pasti, manajemen juga sangat selektif dalam memilih pemain asing. Karena kalau tidak, klub akan sia-sia mengontraknya dengan durasi lama. Seperti halnya Serge yang dilihat dulu penampilannya di piala Gubernur Jawa Timur. Sedangkan striker asing yang satu ini, akan dilihat penampilannya di ajang Inter Island Cup (IIC) Januari mendatang bersama SFC," pungkasnya.


Editor : Dian Sukmawati

 

SRIWIJAYA FC SELEKSI STRIKER ASING

Stasiun merupakan pusat berkumpulnya calon penumpang yang akan pergi menggunakan jasa transportasi kereta api. Dengan hiruk pikuk seperti itu, ada 8 hal yang harus diketahui traveler saat berada di stasiun.

menyusun kiat khusus bagi traveler yang sedang berada di stasiun kereta dan hendak berlibur menggunakan jasa transportasi kereta api. Berikut 8 tips yang mungkin bisa membuat Anda nyaman saat berada di stasiun kereta:

1. Datang lebih awal ke stasiun kereta

Ketika Anda akan melakukan perjalanan menggunakan transportasi kereta api jarak jauh, sebaiknya Anda datang lebih awal dari jadwal keberangkatan yang tertera di tiket. Apalagi bagi traveler yang berdomisili di Jakarta, karena kemacetan ibukota yang tidak bisa diprediksi.

Persiapkan waktu panjang untuk berangkat lebih awal dari rumah, sehingga Anda bisa tenang sampai di stasiun. Sebaiknya, Anda tiba di stasiun 1 jam sebelum jadwal keberangkatan kereta Anda. Lebih baik Anda menunggu lama di stasiun sampai keberangkatan itu tiba, daripada tiket Anda hangus karena ketinggalan kereta.

2. Waspada kejahatan

Aksi kejahatan selalu menjadi hal klasik ketika kita berada di suatu pusat keramaian. Orang-orang jahat selalu mengiringi kita termasuk di dalam stasiun kereta. Misalnya saja copet, mereka siap beraksi dengan jurus jitunya dan selalu tergugah untuk mengambil barang-barang berharga kita.

Banyak trik dan modus yang sudah mereka rancang sehingga barang Anda bisa raib di tangan copet. Jangan sesekali mengumbar barang berharga Anda seperti gadget, dompet, perhiasan dan lainnya. Menjaga barang berharga yang Anda miliki tidak ada ruginya, ketimbang Anda menangis karena kelengahan Anda.

3. Beli tiket di loket resmi

Bagi traveler yang hendak pergi dengan menggunakan angkutan kereta api, pasti Anda harus membeli tiket terlebih dulu. Setiap stasiun pasti sudah disediakan loket resmi untuk membeli tiket kereta.

Tapi, tak lepas dari itu masih banyak calo-calo nakal yang menawarkan tiket dengan harga yang melonjak dari harga asli, terutama saat musim liburan seperti Lebaran. Lebih baik mengantre di loket, daripada Anda harus membayar tiket dengan harga mahal dari calo tersebut.

4. Jangan mudah percaya dengan orang asing

Manusia diciptakan Tuhan dengan berbagai macam karakter dan sifat. Ada orang baik, namun tak jauh dengan orang jahat. Jangan mudah percaya dengan orang lain yang baru kita kenal. Seperti halnya, jangan sembarang menitipkan tas atau barang yang Anda bawa. Bisa-bisa barang Anda raib di tangan orang yang baru Anda kenal.

5. Jaga kebersihan

Menjaga kebersihan merupakan hal yang wajib kita terapkan di mana saja, termasuk di stasiun. Banyak orang yang suka melalaikan hal kecil ini. Padahal pihak stasiun sudah menyediakan banyak tempat sampah di setiap sudut ruangan stasiun.

Dari sekarang, biasakan jangan membuang sampah di sembarang tempat agar kita tetap nyaman saat berada di stasiun. Selain itu, Anda juga harus mempunyai rasa saling memiliki dan menjaga fasilitas yang ada di sekitar kita, sehingga tercipta kenyamanan di stasiun kereta. Dengan hal itu pula, suasana sekitar menjadi enak dipandang mata.

6. Bingung jadwal dan jalur kereta, tanya ke petugas

Terkadang sesama penumpang sama-sama tidak tahu jadwal atau jalur keberangkatan kereta. Kereta yang akan diberangkatkan dari stasiun tersebut tak hanya 1 pemberangkatan saja. Jalur kereta yang disediakan juga banyak dan membingungkan calon penumpang.

Jika Anda masih ragu dengan keberangkatan kereta Anda, sebaiknya tanyakan kepada petugas tentang kepastian jadwal tersebut. Jangan sampai Anda ketinggalan kereta karena salah jadwal dan jalur pemberangkatan kereta yang akan ditumpangi.

7. Bawa makanan ringan dan minuman jika perlu

Bagi traveler yang gemar cemal-cemil, Anda bisa menyiapkan makanan ringan yang bisa dibawa dari rumah. Sembari menunggu kereta tiba, Anda bisa membuka bekal tersebut agar tidak terlalu bosan untuk menunggu datangnya kereta.

8. Hati-Hati dengan porter

Setiap stasiun besar banyak orang yang menawarkan jasa angkut yang biasa disebut dengan porter. Ketika traveler baru tiba di stasiun kereta, porter biasanya menyerbu penumpang untuk menawarkan jasa itu.

Jika tak ingin memakai jasa tersebut, sebaiknya amankan barang-barang bawaan Anda terlebih dulu. Jangan sampai barang tersebut diangkut tanpa sepengetahuan Anda, kemudian Anda dikenai tarif mahal sesudahnya. Selamat Traveling!

Saat Berada di Stasiun ada 8 Hal yang Harus Diketahui

Ibadah haji merupakan salah satu rukun Islam yang lima dan diwajibkan bagi orang yang mampu. Ibadah ini dikaitkan dengan kemampuan karena haji merupakan sebuah perjalanan ibadah yang butuh pengorbanan besar berupa kemampuan materi dan kekuatan fisik. Bila sebuah ibadah dikaitkan langsung dengan kemampuan, berarti menunjukkan kesempurnaan hikmah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dalam meletakkan ibadah tersebut. Orang yang beriman akan menerima ketentuan ibadah tersebut tanpa berat hati. Karena mereka mengetahui bahwa tidak ada satupun bentuk syariat yang diletakkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala melainkan maslahatnya kembali bagi hamba. Tidak terkait sedikitpun dengan kebutuhan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala terhadap mereka. Di sisi lain, dikaitkannya ibadah haji ini dengan kemampuan hamba menunjukkan kasih sayang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang tinggi terhadap mereka. Semuanya ini telah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tegaskan di dalam firman-Nya:

لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللهُ نَفْسًا إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا

“Allah tidak membebani seseorang melainkan menurut kesanggupannya.” (Al-Baqarah: 286)

مَا يُرِيْدُ اللهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ حَرَجٍ

“Allah tidak menginginkan bagi kalian sesuatu yang memberatkan kalian.” (Al-Ma`idah: 6)

يُرِيْدُ اللهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيْدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ

“Allah menginginkan kemudahan buat kalian dan tidak menginginkan kesulitan.” (Al-Baqarah: 185)

وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّيْنِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ

“Dan Allah tidak menjadikan atas kalian dalam agama ini kesukaran.” (Al-Hajj: 78)
Diriwayatkan dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu, dia berkata:

خَطَبَنَا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ: أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ فَرَضَ اللهُ عَلَيْكُمُ الْحَجَّ فَحُجُّوا. فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ: أَكُلَّ عَامٍ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ؟ فَسَكَتَ حَتَّى قَالَهَا ثَلاَثًا، فَقَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: لَوْ قُلْتُ نَعَمْ لَوَجَبَتْ، وَلَمَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ. ثُمَّ قَالَ: ذَرُوْنِي مَا تَرَكْتُكُمْ فَإِنَّمَا هَلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ بِكَثْرَةِ سُؤَالِهِمْ وَاخْتِلاَفِهِمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ فَإِذَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَإِذَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْ شَيْءٍ فَدَعُوْهُ

Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam berkhutbah di hadapan kami, beliau berkata: “Wahai sekalian manusia, sungguh Allah telah mewajibkan bagi kalian haji maka berhajilah kalian!” Seseorang berkata: “Apakah setiap tahun, ya Rasulullah?” Beliau terdiam sehingga orang tersebut mengulangi ucapannya tiga kali. Lalu Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda: “Kalau aku katakan ya, niscaya akan wajib bagi kalian dan kalian tidak akan sanggup.” Kemudian beliau berkata: “Biarkanlah apa yang aku tinggalkan kepada kalian. Sesungguhnya orang sebelum kalian telah binasa karena mereka banyak bertanya yang tidak diperlukan dan menyelisihi nabi-nabi mereka. Jika aku memerintahkan sesuatu kepada kalian maka lakukanlah sesuai dengan kesanggupan kalian. Dan bila aku melarang kalian dari sesuatu maka tinggalkanlah.”1)

Diriwayatkan pula dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu bahwa Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda:

إِنَّ الدِّيْنَ يُسْرٌ وَلَنْ يُشَادَّ الدِّيْنَ أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ غَلَبَهُ فَسَدِّدُوا وَقَارِبُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا وَاسْتَعِيْنُوا بِالْغَدْوَةِ وَالرَّوْحَةِ وَشَيْءٍ مِنَ الدُّلْجَةِ

“Sesungguhnya agama ini mudah dan tidak ada seorangpun yang memberatkan diri padanya melainkan dia tidak akan sanggup. Berusahalah untuk tepat, mendekatlah, dan bergembiralah. Dan gunakanwaktu pagi dan petang serta sebagian dari waktu malam.”2)

Ibnul Munayyir berkata: “Di dalam hadits ini terdapat salah satu tanda kenabian. Dan kita telah menyaksikan, juga telah disaksikan pula oleh orang-orang sebelum kita, bahwa setiap orang yang berdalam-dalam menyelami agama akan tidak sanggup. Dan bukan berarti tidak boleh mencari yang lebih sempurna dalam ibadah, karena ini termasuk perkara yang terpuji. Yang dilarang adalah berlebih-lebihan yang akan menyebabkan kebosanan, atau berlebih-lebihan dalam menjalankan amalan sunnah sehingga meninggalkan yang lebih utama, atau mengeluarkan kewajiban dari waktunya, seperti seseorang yang semalam suntuk untuk qiyamul lail sehingga dia terlalaikan dari Shalat Subuh secara berjamaah atau sampai keluar dari waktu yang dipilih atau sampai terbit matahari yang akhirnya keluar dari waktu yang diwajibkan.” (Lihat Fathul Bari, 1/118)

Sikap Terpuji Orang yang Beriman
Orang berimanlah yang paling bergembira dengan semua bentuk ibadah yang diwajibkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Merekalah yang memiliki kesiapan untuk menjalankannya. Mereka juga memiliki keberanian untuk menghadapi segala kemungkinan yang akan terjadi dalam ketaatan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Mereka tetap tegar dan bersemangat, sekalipun anjuran Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya itu dianggap kecil dan sepele oleh kebanyakan orang. Sikap inilah yang telah digambarkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala di dalam firman-Nya:

إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوْلَ الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ إِذَا دُعُوا إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَنْ يَقُوْلُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا

“Sesungguhnya ucapan orang-orang yang beriman bila mereka diseru kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya untuk menghukumi di antara mereka, mereka mengatakan: ‘Kami mendengar dan kami taat’.” (An-Nur: 51)

وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلاَ مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللهُ وَرَسُوْلُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُوْنَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ

“Dan tidaklah patut bagi laki-laki yang mukmin dan tidak (pula) bagi perempuan yang mukmin, apabila Allah dan Rasul-Nya telah menetapkan suatu ketetapan, akan ada bagi mereka pilihan (yang lain) tentang urusan mereka.” (Al-Ahzab: 36)

فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُوْنَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوْكَ فِيْمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لاَ يَجِدُوا فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيْمًا

“Maka demi Rabbmu, mereka tidak akan beriman sehingga mereka menjadikanmu sebagai hakim dalam apa yang mereka perselisihkan, kemudian mereka tidak mendapatkan rasa berat pada diri-diri mereka (untuk menerima) apa yang kamu putuskan dan mereka menerima dengan sebenar-benarnya.” (An-Nisa`: 65)

Bingkisan Berharga bagi para Hujjaj (Jamaah Haji)

Salah satu perintah syariat adalah menunaikan ibadah haji. Pelaksanaan ibadah ini memiliki amalan-amalan yang berbeda dengan ibadah-ibadah lainnya. Amalan yang sangat membutuhkan keikhlasan niat yang tinggi, kejujuran iman, ketabahan jiwa dan ketundukan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang sempurna, kekuatan material dan spiritual. Hal ini terbukti dari awal perintah memakai pakaian ihram sampai akhir pelaksanaan ibadah tersebut.

Ada beberapa bingkisan berharga untuk saudaraku yang hendak menunaikan ibadah haji.
Pertama, Memperbaiki niat dan menjaga keikhlasan dalam pelaksanaan ibadah haji.
Keikhlasan adalah sebuah amalan hati yang sangat erat hubungannya dengan kemurniaan aqidah dan tauhid seseorang. Ketauhidan yang benar akan membuahkan keikhlasan yang murni dan hakiki. Keikhlasan yang murni merupakan perwujudan ketulusan persaksian hamba terhadap kalimat Laa ilaha illallah, tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.

Seseorang harus membangun semua ibadahnya di atas aqidah yang benar. Karena aqidah yang benar merupakan penentu diterimanya amalan seseorang. Berdasarkan hal inilah, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala menjadikan aqidah dan tauhid sebagai rukun Islam pertama melalui lisan Rasul-Nya. Dalam hadits Ibnu ‘Umar radhiyallahu 'anhuma, Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda:

بُنِيَ اْلإِسْلاَمُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلاَةِ وَإِيْتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ وَالْحَجِّ وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ

“Islam itu dibangun di atas lima dasar yaitu mempersaksikan bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah dan Muhammad adalah utusan-Nya, mendirikan shalat, menunaikan zakat, haji dan puasa pada bulan Ramadhan.”3
Jibril berkata dalam hadits ‘Umar radhiyallahu 'anhu:

يَا مُحَمَّدُ، أَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ اْلإِسْلاَمِ. فَقَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: اْلإِسْلاَمُ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَنْ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ -صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ- وَتُقِيْمَ الصَّلاَةَ وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ وَتَصُوْمَ رَمَضَانَ وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيْلاً

“Wahai Muhammad, beritahukan kepadaku tentang Islam!” Beliau menjawab: “Engkau mempersaksikan bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah dan bahwa Muhammad adalah utusan Allah, mendirikan shalat, menunaikan zakat, puasa dan haji ke Baitullah bila engkau mampu menempuh perjalanan ke sana.”4
Bila aqidah seseorang menyelisihi aqidah yang diajarkan oleh Al-Qur`an dan As-Sunnah, tentu akan merusak niatnya. Atau niatnya akan tercampuri dengan niatan yang lain. Bahkan tidak menutup kemungkinan, dia berangkat menunaikan ibadah haji dibarengi dengan niat-niat yang mengandung kesyirikan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, seperti niat meminta kepada Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam di makam beliau, atau di sisi kuburan-kuburan yang menurut penilaian banyak pihak bahwa tempat tersebut berbarakah dan keramat. Atau berniat meminta keberkahan hidup, kekayaan, naik pangkat, laris dalam berniaga, lulus dalam ujian, meminta harta benda, dan segala yang berbau keuntungan duniawi, kepada selain Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.

Membangun ibadah haji di atas kemurnian aqidah akan berbuah nilai positif di dunia setelah melakukan ibadah tersebut, dan di akhirat karena mendapatkan haji mabrur yang diterima. Berbeda dengan orang yang membangun ibadah hajinya di atas kerusakan aqidah, seperti:

a. Aqidah Sufiyyah yang pada ujungnya adalah kufur kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, sebagaimana ucapan seorang pentolan Sufiyyah, Ibnu ‘Arabi:
Ar-Rabb adalah hamba dan hamba adalah Rabb
Aduhai kalau demikian siapa yang akan melaksanakan beban (syariat)
Dalam kesempatan lain dia mengucapkan:
Tiadalah anjing dan babi melainkan tuhan kita
b. Aqidah Syi’ah dengan berbagai sempalannya yang mengaku memuliakan ahlu bait Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, padahal mereka jauh dari hal itu dan justru mencaci maki para shahabat beliau.
c. Aqidah Jahmiyyah yang mengingkari nama dan sifat-sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
d. Aqidah Mu’tazilah yang menuhankan akal dan mengingkari sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
e. Aqidah Asy’ariyyah yang menafikan sebahagian sifat-sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
dan berbagai bentuk aqidah rusak lainnya.

Niat merupakan asas pertama dan utama diterimanya amal. Sehingga bila niat telah rusak maka akan merusak yang lain. Yang paling berbahaya sebagai perusak niat adalah riya` dan sum’ah, yaitu memperdengarkan amalan-amalan atau perjalanan yang penuh kenangan dan peristiwa aneh dengan tujuan mendapatkan pujian. Betapa banyak orang yang tidak mendapatkan haji yang mabrur karena memiliki niat yang rusak. Misalnya ingin menjadi orang terhormat karena bergelar haji di depan namanya, disanjung, dipuji, disebut pak haji, dan sebagainya.
Kewajiban mengikhlaskan niat ini telah dijelaskan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya:

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُوا اللهَ مُخْلِصِيْنَ لَهُ الدِّيْنَ

“Dan tidaklah mereka diperintahkan melainkan agar mereka beribadah kepada Allah dengan mengikhlaskan baginya agama.” (Al-Bayyinah: 5)

إِنَّمَا اْلأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّةِ وَإِنَّمَا لاِمْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ لِدُنْيَا يُصِيْبُهَا أَوِ امْرَأَةٍ يَتَزَوَّجُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِ

“Sesungguhnya amalan itu sah dengan niat. Dan setiap orang akan mendapatkan apa yang dia niatkan. Maka barangsiapa yang hijrahnya kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya, maka dia telah hijrah kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya. Dan barangsiapa yang hijrah untuk dunia yang ingin diperoleh atau wanita yang ingin dinikahinya maka dia telah berhijrah kepada apa yang dia telah niatkan.”5
Setiap amalan tergantung niatnya. Dan niat tersebut kembali kepada keikhlasan, yaitu niat yang satu untuk Dzat yang satu, yaitu Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. (Fathul Bari, 1/14)
Hadits di atas menjelaskan tentang kedudukan niat sebagai landasan diterimanya amal seseorang. Oleh karena itu, banyak komentar para ulama tentang kedudukan hadits niat ini. Contohnya Al-Imam Asy-Syafi’i mengatakan: “Hadits ini masuk dalam 70 bab dalam bidang ilmu.”

Abu Abdillah (Al-Imam Ahmad) mengatakan: “Tidak ada hadits Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam yang lebih padat, lebih kaya, dan lebih banyak faedahnya daripada hadits ini (yakni hadits tentang niat).”
Ibnu Mahdi mengatakan: “Hadits ini masuk pada 30 bab dalam bidang ilmu.”
Beliau rahimahullah juga mengatakan: “Sepantasnya hadits ini diletakkan dalam setiap bab ilmu.” (Fathul Bari, 1/13)

شَرَعَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الدِّيْنِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوْحًا

“Allah telah mensyariatkan bagi kalian agama yang telah Dia wasiatkan kepada Nuh.” (Asy-Syura: 13)
Abul ‘Aliyah rahimahullah berkata: “Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala mewasiatkan kepada mereka agar ikhlas dalam beribadah kepada-Nya.” (Fathul Bari, 1/13)
Ibnu Rajab menjelaskan: “Setiap amalan yang tidak diniatkan untuk Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala maka amalan tersebut adalah batil, tidak memiliki buah di dunia dan di akhirat.” (Jami’ Al-’Ulum Wal Hikam hal. 11)

Kedua, Mencontoh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam setiap pelaksanaan ibadah haji
Mencontoh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam pelaksanaan ibadah haji merupakan syarat kedua diterimanya amalan haji seseorang setelah syarat ikhlas. Mulai awal pelaksanaan haji sampai akhirnya, tidak diperbolehkan mengada-adakan sesuatu sedikitpun. Bila ada amalan yang tidak sesuai dengan tuntunan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, niscaya tidak akan diterima oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Hal ini berdasarkan hadits Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam:

مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدٌّ -وَفِي رِوَايَةٍ لِمُسْلِمٍ- مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلاً لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرُنَا فَهُوَ رَدٌّ

“Barangsiapa yang mengada-ada dalam urusan kami yang tidak ada ajarannya dari kami maka amalan tersebut tertolak.”
Dalam riwayat Muslim disebutkan: “Barangsiapa yang melakukan amalan yang tidak ada tuntunannya dari kami maka amalan tersebut tertolak.”6
Sekecil dan seringan apapun, amalan ibadah haji tersebut harus sesuai dengan tuntunan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Dalam hal ini, segenap kaum muslimin tidak boleh berpedoman dengan pengajaran dan bimbingan orang tua dahulu, atau guru-guru kita, namun harus berpedoman dengan dalil-dalil.

Ibnu Rajab rahimahullah menjelaskan: “Semua amalan yang dilakukan harus di bawah ketentuan hukum-hukum syariat. Hukum syariat menjadi hakim terhadap semua amalan, baik dalam hal perintah maupun larangan. Sehingga barangsiapa yang amalannya berjalan di bawah ketentuan syariat dan sesuai dengannya maka diterima. Dan bila keluar dari hukum syariat maka amalan tersebut tertolak.” (Jami’ Al-’Ulum Wal Hikam hal. 83)

Haji Mabrur Diraih dengan Kedua Syarat di Atas
Dengan kedua syarat di atas, seseorang akan bisa meraih keutamaan haji mabrur yaitu haji yang diterima di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, menurut salah satu pendapat ulama. Tanda diterimanya ibadah haji adalah dia pulang dalam keadaan lebih baik dari sebelumnya dan tidak kembali kepada perbuatan maksiat. Ada yang berpendapat bahwa yang dimaksud adalah haji yang tidak dijangkiti penyakit riya`. Dan ada pula yang berpendapat maksudnya yaitu haji yang tidak diiringi kemaksiatan setelahnya.
Imam An-Nawawi rahimahullah menguatkan pendapat ini. Dan yang paling masyhur adalah pendapat bahwa haji mabrur adalah haji yang tidak dicampuri dengan kemaksiatan. (Syarh Muslim, 5/119)
Para hujjaj sangat mengidamkan keutamaan ini. Namun di antara mereka ada yang tidak memerhatikan kiat yang akan mengantarkan dirinya untuk mendapatkannya. Bila seseorang tidak membangun ibadah hajinya di atas kedua landasan di atas, maka dia tidak akan mendapatkannya. Hal itu merupakan sesuatu yang pasti berdasarkan dalil-dalil di atas. Tentang haji mabrur, telah disebutkan oleh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam banyak sabdanya. Di antaranya:
Diriwayatkan dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu, dia berkata:

أَنَّ رَسُوْلَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ سُئِلَ: أَيُّ الْعَمَلِ أَفْضَلُ؟ فَقَالَ: إِيْمَانٌ بِاللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ. قِيْلَ: ثُمَّ مَاذَا؟ قَالَ: الْجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيْلِ اللهِ. قِيْلَ: ثُمَّ مَاذَا؟ قَالَ: حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ

Bahwasanya Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam ditanya tentang amalan yang paling utama lalu beliau menjawab: “Iman kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya.” Ditanyakan kepada beliau: “Kemudian apa?” Beliau berkata: “Berjihad di jalan Allah.” Ditanyakan lagi kepada beliau: “Kemudian apa?” Beliau berkata: “Haji yang mabrur.”7
Diriwayatkan dari ‘Aisyah Ummul Mukminin radhiyallahu 'anha, ia berkata:

يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ، نَرَى الْجِهَادَ أَفْضَلَ الْعَمَلِ، أَفَلاَ نُجَاهِدُ؟ قَالَ: لاَ، لَكِنَّ أَفْضَلَ الْجِهَادِ حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ

“Ya Rasulullah, kami berpendapat bahwa jihad adalah amalan yang paling utama. Tidakkah kami ikut berjihad?” Beliau berkata: “Tidak. Akan tetapi jihad yang paling utama (bagi wanita) adalah haji mabrur.”
Dalam riwayat Al-Imam An-Nasa`i disebutkan dengan lafadz:

قُلْتُ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ، أَلاَ نَخْرُجُ فَنُجَاهِدَ مَعَكَ فَإِنِّي لاَ أَرَى عَمَلاً فِي الْقُرْآنِ أَفْضَلَ مِنَ الْجِهَادِ. قَالَ: لاَ، وَلَكِنَّ أَحْسَنَ الْجِهَادِ وَأَجْمَلَهُ حَجُّ الْبَيْتِ حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ

Aku berkata: “Ya Rasulullah, tidakkah kami keluar ikut berjihad bersamamu karena aku tidak melihat di dalam Al-Qur`an ada amalan yang paling utama daripada jihad?” Beliau bersabda: “Tidak. Akan tetapi sebaik-baik jihad dan yang paling indah adalah haji ke Baitullah, yaitu haji yang mabrur.” (Dishahihkan Al-Albani dalam Shahih An-Nasa`i no. 2628)
Diriwayatkan dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu, bahwa Rasululah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda:

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

“Umrah yang satu ke umrah berikutnya merupakan penghapus dosa di antara keduanya, dan haji yang mabrur tidak ada balasannya melainkan surga.”8
Demikianlah beberapa dalil yang menunjukkan keutamaan haji yang mabrur dan tidak ada balasan bagi haji yang mabrur melainkan surga. Al-Imam An-Nawawi menjelaskan: “Pelaku haji tersebut tidak hanya terhapus dosa-dosanya, bahkan dia mesti masuk ke dalam surga.” (Syarh Muslim, 5/119)
Demikianlah kedudukan dua syarat diterimanya setiap amalan hamba, yaitu ikhlas dan mencontoh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Sehingga yang dituntut dari seorang hamba dalam ibadahnya adalah bagaimana dia memperbaiki ibadahnya, bukan hanya bagaimana memperbanyaknya. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:

الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلاً

“Allah yang telah menciptakan mati dan hidup untuk menguji kalian siapa yang paling baik amalannya.” (Al-Mulk: 2)
Ibnu Katsir menjelaskan: “Makna ayat ini adalah Dialah yang telah menjadikan makhluk dari tidak ada menjadi ada, untuk menguji mereka siapa yang paling baik amalnya.” Muhammad bin ‘Ajlan berkata: “Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tidak mengatakan yang paling banyak amalannya.” (Tafsir Ibnu Katsir, 4/414)

Ketiga, Iman yang benar kepada Allah
Beriman kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala merupakan salah satu rukun iman yang enam dan merupakan intisari keimanan terhadap rukun iman yang lain. Bila keimanan seseorang kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tidak benar, maka akan menjadi barometer kepincangan imannya terhadap rukun iman yang lain.

Keimanan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala mencakup banyak perkara, di antaranya:

1. Meyakini bahwa Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala adalah Dzat yang berhak untuk disembah, dan segala bentuk penyembahan serta pengagungan terhadap selain-Nya adalah batil.

ذلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُوْنَ مِنْ دُوْنِهِ هُوَ الْبَاطِلُ وَأَنَّ اللهَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيْرُ

“Demikianlah bahwa Allah adalah Al-Haq (untuk disembah) dan apa yang mereka sembah selainnya adalah batil dan Allah Maha Kaya dan Maha Besar.” (Al-Hajj: 62)
Pengagungan terhadap selain Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala banyak bentuknya. Di antaranya mengagungkan kuburan-kuburan tertentu, orang-orang tertentu, tempat-tempat yang dikeramatkan, pohon-pohon, batu-batu, jimat-jimat, jin-jin, dan sebagainya. Semuanya akan merusak keimanan seseorang kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan akan mengarah kepada tercabutnya keimanan dari diri mereka.


2. Mengimani segala apa yang diwajibkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala kepada hamba-hamba-Nya berupa pelaksanaan rukun Islam yang lima secara lahiriah dan kewajiban lainnya yang telah dibebankan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala kepada setiap hamba. Di antara lima rukun Islam, yang paling besar dan paling utama adalah persaksian terhadap dua kalimat syahadat. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:

فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ

“Maka ketahuilah bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah.” (Muhammad: 19)
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman pula:

شَهِدَ اللهُ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ وَالْمَلاَئِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْعَزِيْزُ الْحَكِيْمُ

“Dan Allah telah bersaksi bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Dia dan para malaikat serta orang-orang yang berilmu ikut mempersaksikan dengan penuh keadilan bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah dan Dia Maha Mulia dan Maha Bijaksana.” (Ali ‘Imran: 18)
3. Mengimani bahwa Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang menciptakan dan mengatur segala urusan alam ini dan memantau mereka dengan ilmu serta kebijaksanaan. Dia yang memiliki dunia dan akhirat. Tidak ada pencipta selain-Nya dan tidak ada yang sanggup mengatur urusan makhluk ini kecuali Dia. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala telah mengutus para nabi dan menurunkan kitab-kitab untuk kemaslahatan hamba dan untuk menyeru mereka kepada jalan menuju keberhasilan dan keselamatan hidup di dunia dan akhirat.
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ لاَ تَسْجُدُوا لِلشَّمْسِ وَلاَ لِلْقَمَرِ وَاسْجُدُوا لِلّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَهُنَّ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُوْنَ

“Dan termasuk tanda-tanda kebesaran Allah adalah adanya malam dan siang, matahari dan bulan. (Oleh karena itu) janganlah kalian sujud kepada matahari dan bulan, namun sujudlah kalian kepada Allah yang telah menciptakannya jika kalian hanya beribadah kepada-Nya.” (Fushshilat: 37)
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:

إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَاْلأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيْثًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُوْمَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ أَلاَ لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَاْلأَمْرُ تَبَارَكَ اللهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ

“Sesungguhnya Allah telah menciptakan langit-langit dan bumi dalam enam hari kemudian Dia beristiwa` di atas ‘Arsy. Allah menutup siang dengan malam yang terjadi dengan cepat (dan Dialah yang telah menciptakan) matahari, bulan, dan bintang-bintang yang semuanya tunduk di bawah perintah-Nya, ketahuilah hak Allah untuk mencipta dan memerintah, dan Maha suci Allah Rabb semesta alam.” (Al-A’raf: 54)

4. Mengimani nama-nama dan sifat-sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang baik dan tinggi, yang dijelaskan dalam Al-Kitab dan As-Sunnah, tanpa memalingkan dan menyelewengkan maknanya sedikitpun dari apa yang dimaukan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya, serta tanpa menyerupakan-Nya dengan sifat-sifat makhluk.

وَلِلّهِ اْلأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَى فَادْعُوْهُ بِهَا وَذَرُوا الَّذِيْنَ يُلْحِدُوْنَ فِي أَسْمَائِهِ سَيُجْزَوْنَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُوْنَ

“Dan Allah memiliki nama-nama yang baik maka berdoalah kalian dengannya dan biarkanlah orang-orang yang menyeleweng dari nama-nama Allah dan mereka pasti akan dibalas atas apa yang telah mereka perbuat.” (Al-A’raf: 180)

وَلَهُ الْمَثَلُ اْلأَعْلَى فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَاْلأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيْزُ الْحَكِيْمُ

“Dan bagi Allah perumpamaan yang tinggi di langit-langit dan di bumi, dan Dia Maha Mulia dan Maha Bijaksana.” (Ar-Rum: 27)

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيْعُ الْبَصِيْرُ

“Dan tidak ada sesuatupun yang serupa dengan Allah dan Dia Maha Mendengar lagi Maha Melihat.” (Asy-Syura: 11)
Larangan berbicara tentang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tanpa ilmu telah diperingatkan oleh-Nya di dalam firman-Nya:

وَلاَ تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُوْلاً

“Dan janganlah kamu mengatakan apa yang kamu tidak memiliki ilmu padanya. Sesungguhnya pendengaran, penglihatan, dan hati, semuanya akan dimintai pertanggungjawaban.” (Al-Isra`: 36)

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَاْلإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَنْ تُشْرِكُوا بِاللهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَنْ تَقُوْلُوا عَلَى اللهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُوْنَ

“Katakan: ‘Sesungguhnya Rabbku telah mengharamkan kekejian yang nampak maupun yang tidak nampak, mengharamkan dosa, perbuatan dzalim tanpa alasan yang benar dan mengharamkan kalian menyekutu-kan Allah dengan sesuatu yang tidak pernah Allah turunkan keterangan tentangnya, dan mengharamkan berkata tentang Allah tanpa dasar ilmu.” (Al-A’raf: 33)

Demikianlah beberapa kiat untuk memperbaiki keimanan kita kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, agar semua amal yang kita kerjakan dibangun di atas keimanan kepada-Nya. Bila ibadah haji seseorang dibangun di atas keimanan kepada-Nya tentu semua niatan akan diarahkan kepada-Nya. Dia tentunya tidak akan keluar dari tuntunan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya dalam pelaksanaan haji tersebut, sehingga bisa mendapatkan haji mabrur di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Demikianlah buah keimanan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
Wallahu a‘lam.

1 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 6744 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 2380
2 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 38
3 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 7 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 19, 20, 21, 22.
4 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Muslim no. 9
5 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 1 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 3530
6 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 2499 dan Al-Muslim no. 3242
7 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 25
8 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Buhari no. 1650 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 2403

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Julia Perez akan menghirup udara bebas pada 17 Juni mendatang. Setelah bebas, pelantun 'Belah Duren' itu siap untuk mengganti namanya. Jadi apa ya?

Saat berbincang-bincang dengan detikHot di Rutan Pondok Bambu, Selasa (21/5/2013), perempuan yang akrab disapa Jupe itu mengaku akan mengganti namanya dengan nama Julia Riche.

"Julia Riche, aku terinspirasi dari komik kesukaanku 'Richie Rich'. Rich kan kaya, jadi nama sekaligus doa," ujar pemilik nama asli Yuli Rachmawati seraya tertawa.

Jupe sebenarnya punya alasan tersendiri kenapa dirinya mau mengganti namanya itu. Jupe ingin melepas nama Perez untuk menghormati sang kekasih, Gaston Castano. Jupe diketahui mendapat nama Perez dari suaminya dulu, Damien Perez.

"Aku kan harus menghormatinya, sebenarnya sudah lama pengen ganti tapi baru nemu nama itu sekarang. Selama ini dia (Gaston) diam saja, tapi aku tahu dia sebenarnya tidak suka," tuturnya.

Selain mengganti nama, Jupe berniat untuk menyuguhkan imejnya yang baru dan lebih fresh. Untuk mewujudkan keinginannya itu, ia berkolaborasi dengan desainer ternama.

"Kalau yang ini, nanti saja ya. Biar kejutan, pokoknya beda banget deh," singkat bintang film 'Gending Sriwijaya' itu.

Setelah Bebas Julia perez, Siap Ganti nama

saco-indonesia.com, Tempat prostitusi di Jawa Timur saat ini masih marak. Untuk dapat menekan berkembangnya tempat-tempat lokalisasi tersebut, MUI Jawa Timur telah membentuk Ikatan Dai Area Lokalisasi (IDIAL). Mereka telah ditugaskan untuk berdakwah di area prostitusi.

"Untuk bisa mengentaskan para WTS dan mucikari menuju profesi dan alih fungsi, IDIAL telah melakukan pendekatan religiusitas keagamaan, yaitu dengan dakwah persuasif, integratif dan solutif," kata Ketua IDIAL Jawa Timur, Sunarto dalam bedah buku: "Kiai Prostitusi dan Pelatihan Da'i Relawan Mandiri" di Auditorium Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Ampel (UINSA) Surabaya, Kamis (19/12).

Sunarto juga mengatakan, pelatihan ini juga sudah merambah ke seluruh pelosok kabupaten dan kota di Jawa Timur. "Ini kali ketiga, pelatihan sebelumnya hanya lingkup Surabaya, tapi sekarang IDIAL telah merekrut relawan di seluruh daerah se-Jawa Timur," katanya.

Untuk Surabaya sendiri, kata Sunarto, relawan dan dai yang disebar di enam lokalisasi sudah berhasil menutup empat lokalisasi, bekerjasama dengan Pemkot Surabaya dan Pemprov Jawa Timur. "Sekarang, di Surabaya yang sudah ditutup di antaranya, Dupak Bangunsari, Tambak Asri, dan Klakah Rejo. Sememi sebentar lagi yang dilanjutkan Dolly dan Jarak," ujarnya.

Sejauh ini sudah ada 300 dai. Mereka juga sudah dibekali dengan pelatihan khusus. "Mereka (peserta pelatihan) juga diharapkan akan bisa menjadi juru dakwah dan relawan mandiri yang betul-betul dapat memahami karakteristik, situasi dan kondisi di lokalisasi daerah mereka masing-masing," harap Sunarto.

Sunarto menulis buku ini karena terinspirasi dari perjuangan Khoiron Syu'aeb. Menurutnya, Khoirun sebagai sosok dai yang telah malang melintang di dunia pembinaan prostitusi.

"Buku ini, semoga bisa juga menjadi inspirasi bagi dai-dai baru yang siap diterjunkan di daerahnya masing-masing, khususnya di wilayah prostitusi," harapnya.

Kiai Khoiron sendiri, masih menurut Sunarto, tidak pernah merasa keberatan dijuluki sebagai Kiai Prostitusi. Dengan begitu, ia lebih mudah berdakwah di tempat prostitusi.

"Kiprah dakwahnya telah terbukti lebih ampuh dan efektif dan bisa dijadikan sebagai contoh untuk menangani prostitusi. Sudah ada bukti, seperti Hj Narti misalnya, yang telah memulai karirnya sebagai WTS, kemudian mucikari yang kemudian berhasil dientaskan oleh Kiai Khoiron, bahkan sudah berhaji dan membuka bisnis ekspedisi sekarang," ungkapnya.

Kini, Narti juga berperan aktif menjadi relawan dan mengajak eks WTS terlibat dalam pengajian rutin di daerah Dupak Bangunsari. "Diharapkan, ada banyak lagi Hj Narti-Hj Narti lain. Meski nantinya usaha yang telah mereka dirikan pasca penutupan lokalisasi tidak besar, dengan modal yang telah disediakan oleh Kementerian Sosial dan pemerintah serta pembinaan rutin, mereka juga bisa mengembangkan usaha yang mulanya kecil menjadi besar," harap Sunarto.


Editor : Dian Sukmawati

MUI DI JAWA TIMUR SEBAR DAI MUDA

Ms. Turner and her twin sister founded the Love Kitchen in 1986 in a church basement in Knoxville, Tenn., and it continues to provide clothing and meals.

Ellen Turner Dies at 87; Opened Kitchen to Feed the Needy of Knoxville

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

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

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’

The career criminals in genre novels don’t have money problems. If they need some, they just go out and steal it. But such financial transactions can backfire, which is what happened back in 2004 when the Texas gang in Michael

Take the Money and Run

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

Dave Goldberg Was Lifelong Women’s Advocate

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading the main story
 

Document: The Formaldehyde Fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading the main story

Formaldehyde in Laminate Flooring

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

Typical

laminate

flooring

CLEAR FINISH LAYER

Often made of melamine resin

PATTERN LAYER

Paper printed to resemble wood,

or a thin wood veneer

GLUE

Layers may be bound using

formaldehyde-based glues

CORE LAYER

Fiberboard or other

composite, formed using

formaldehyde-based adhesives

BASE LAYER

Moisture-resistant vapor barrier

What is formaldehyde?

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

WHERE IT IS COMMONLY FOUND

POTENTIAL HEALTH RISKS

Pressed-wood and composite wood products

Wallpaper and paints

Spray foam insulation used in construction

Commercial wood floor finishes

Crease-resistant fabrics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Vitter’s staff was pleased.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Uphill Battle to Better Regulate Formaldehyde

Mr. Bartoszewski was given honorary Israeli citizenship for his work to save Jews during World War II and later surprised even himself by being instrumental in reconciling Poland and Germany.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 93, Dies; Polish Auschwitz Survivor Aided Jews

Though Robin and Joan Rolfs owned two rare talking dolls manufactured by Thomas Edison’s phonograph company in 1890, they did not dare play the wax cylinder records tucked inside each one.

The Rolfses, longtime collectors of Edison phonographs, knew that if they turned the cranks on the dolls’ backs, the steel phonograph needle might damage or destroy the grooves of the hollow, ring-shaped cylinder. And so for years, the dolls sat side by side inside a display cabinet, bearers of a message from the dawn of sound recording that nobody could hear.

In 1890, Edison’s dolls were a flop; production lasted only six weeks. Children found them difficult to operate and more scary than cuddly. The recordings inside, which featured snippets of nursery rhymes, wore out quickly.

Yet sound historians say the cylinders were the first entertainment records ever made, and the young girls hired to recite the rhymes were the world’s first recording artists.

Year after year, the Rolfses asked experts if there might be a safe way to play the recordings. Then a government laboratory developed a method to play fragile records without touching them.

Audio

The technique relies on a microscope to create images of the grooves in exquisite detail. A computer approximates — with great accuracy — the sounds that would have been created by a needle moving through those grooves.

In 2014, the technology was made available for the first time outside the laboratory.

“The fear all along is that we don’t want to damage these records. We don’t want to put a stylus on them,” said Jerry Fabris, the curator of the Thomas Edison Historical Park in West Orange, N.J. “Now we have the technology to play them safely.”

Last month, the Historical Park posted online three never-before-heard Edison doll recordings, including the two from the Rolfses’ collection. “There are probably more out there, and we’re hoping people will now get them digitized,” Mr. Fabris said.

The technology, which is known as Irene (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.), was developed by the particle physicist Carl Haber and the engineer Earl Cornell at Lawrence Berkeley. Irene extracts sound from cylinder and disk records. It can also reconstruct audio from recordings so badly damaged they were deemed unplayable.

“We are now hearing sounds from history that I did not expect to hear in my lifetime,” Mr. Fabris said.

The Rolfses said they were not sure what to expect in August when they carefully packed their two Edison doll cylinders, still attached to their motors, and drove from their home in Hortonville, Wis., to the National Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass. The center had recently acquired Irene technology.

Audio

Cylinders carry sound in a spiral groove cut by a phonograph recording needle that vibrates up and down, creating a surface made of tiny hills and valleys. In the Irene set-up, a microscope perched above the shaft takes thousands of high-resolution images of small sections of the grooves.

Stitched together, the images provide a topographic map of the cylinder’s surface, charting changes in depth as small as one five-hundredth the thickness of a human hair. Pitch, volume and timbre are all encoded in the hills and valleys and the speed at which the record is played.

At the conservation center, the preservation specialist Mason Vander Lugt attached one of the cylinders to the end of a rotating shaft. Huddled around a computer screen, the Rolfses first saw the wiggly waveform generated by Irene. Then came the digital audio. The words were at first indistinct, but as Mr. Lugt filtered out more of the noise, the rhyme became clearer.

“That was the Eureka moment,” Mr. Rolfs said.

In 1890, a girl in Edison’s laboratory had recited:

There was a little girl,

And she had a little curl

Audio

Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good,

She was very, very good.

But when she was bad, she was horrid.

Recently, the conservation center turned up another surprise.

In 2010, the Woody Guthrie Foundation received 18 oversize phonograph disks from an anonymous donor. No one knew if any of the dirt-stained recordings featured Guthrie, but Tiffany Colannino, then the foundation’s archivist, had stored them unplayed until she heard about Irene.

Last fall, the center extracted audio from one of the records, labeled “Jam Session 9” and emailed the digital file to Ms. Colannino.

“I was just sitting in my dining room, and the next thing I know, I’m hearing Woody,” she said. In between solo performances of “Ladies Auxiliary,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Dead or Alive,” Guthrie tells jokes, offers some back story, and makes the audience laugh. “It is quintessential Guthrie,” Ms. Colannino said.

The Rolfses’ dolls are back in the display cabinet in Wisconsin. But with audio stored on several computers, they now have a permanent voice.

Ghostly Voices From Thomas Edison’s Dolls Can Now Be Heard

BEIJING (AP) — The head of Taiwan's Nationalists reaffirmed the party's support for eventual unification with the mainland when he met Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of continuing rapprochement between the former bitter enemies.

Nationalist Party Chairman Eric Chu, a likely presidential candidate next year, also affirmed Taiwan's desire to join the proposed Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank during the meeting in Beijing. China claims Taiwan as its own territory and doesn't want the island to join using a name that might imply it is an independent country.

Chu's comments during his meeting with Xi were carried live on Hong Kong-based broadcaster Phoenix Television.

The Nationalists were driven to Taiwan by Mao Zedong's Communists during the Chinese civil war in 1949, leading to decades of hostility between the sides. Chu, who took over as party leader in January, is the third Nationalist chairman to visit the mainland and the first since 2009.

Relations between the communist-ruled mainland and the self-governing democratic island of Taiwan began to warm in the 1990s, partly out of their common opposition to Taiwan's formal independence from China, a position advocated by the island's Democratic Progressive Party.

Despite increasingly close economic ties, the prospect of political unification has grown increasingly unpopular on Taiwan, especially with younger voters. Opposition to the Nationalists' pro-China policies was seen as a driver behind heavy local electoral defeats for the party last year that led to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou resigning as party chairman.

Taiwan party leader affirms eventual reunion with China
Joseph Lechleider

Mr. Lechleider helped invent DSL technology, which enabled phone companies to offer high-speed web access over their infrastructure of copper wires.

Joseph Lechleider, a Father of the DSL Internet Technology, Dies at 82
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Many bodies prepared for cremation last week in Kathmandu were of young men from Gongabu, a common stopover for Nepali migrant workers headed overseas. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

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

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

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

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

Nepal’s Young Men, Lost to Migration, Then a Quake
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United’s first-class and business fliers get Rhapsody, its high-minded in-flight magazine, seen here at its office in Brooklyn. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Last summer at a writers’ workshop in Oregon, the novelists Anthony Doerr, Karen Russell and Elissa Schappell were chatting over cocktails when they realized they had all published work in the same magazine. It wasn’t one of the usual literary outlets, like Tin House, The Paris Review or The New Yorker. It was Rhapsody, an in-flight magazine for United Airlines.

It seemed like a weird coincidence. Then again, considering Rhapsody’s growing roster of A-list fiction writers, maybe not. Since its first issue hit plane cabins a year and a half ago, Rhapsody has published original works by literary stars like Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Amy Bloom, Emma Straub and Mr. Doerr, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two weeks ago.

As airlines try to distinguish their high-end service with luxuries like private sleeping chambers, showers, butler service and meals from five-star chefs, United Airlines is offering a loftier, more cerebral amenity to its first-class and business-class passengers: elegant prose by prominent novelists. There are no airport maps or disheartening lists of in-flight meal and entertainment options in Rhapsody. Instead, the magazine has published ruminative first-person travel accounts, cultural dispatches and probing essays about flight by more than 30 literary fiction writers.

 

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Sean Manning, executive editor of Rhapsody, which publishes works by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, Amy Bloom and Anthony Doerr, who won a Pulitzer Prize. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

 

An airline might seem like an odd literary patron. But as publishers and writers look for new ways to reach readers in a shaky retail climate, many have formed corporate alliances with transit companies, including American Airlines, JetBlue and Amtrak, that provide a captive audience.

Mark Krolick, United Airlines’ managing director of marketing and product development, said the quality of the writing in Rhapsody brings a patina of sophistication to its first-class service, along with other opulent touches like mood lighting, soft music and a branded scent.

“The high-end leisure or business-class traveler has higher expectations, even in the entertainment we provide,” he said.

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Some of Rhapsody’s contributing writers say they were lured by the promise of free airfare and luxury accommodations provided by United, as well as exposure to an elite audience of some two million first-class and business-class travelers.

“It’s not your normal Park Slope Community Bookstore types who read Rhapsody,” Mr. Moody, author of the 1994 novel “The Ice Storm,” who wrote an introspective, philosophical piece about traveling to the Aran Islands of Ireland for Rhapsody, said in an email. “I’m not sure I myself am in that Rhapsody demographic, but I would like them to buy my books one day.”

In addition to offering travel perks, the magazine pays well and gives writers freedom, within reason, to choose their subject matter and write with style. Certain genres of flight stories are off limits, naturally: no plane crashes or woeful tales of lost luggage or rude flight attendants, and nothing too risqué.

“We’re not going to have someone write about joining the mile-high club,” said Jordan Heller, the editor in chief of Rhapsody. “Despite those restrictions, we’ve managed to come up with a lot of high-minded literary content.”

Guiding writers toward the right idea occasionally requires some gentle prodding. When Rhapsody’s executive editor asked Ms. Russell to contribute an essay about a memorable flight experience, she first pitched a story about the time she was chaperoning a group of teenagers on a trip to Europe, and their delayed plane sat at the airport in New York for several hours while other passengers got progressively drunker.

“He pointed out that disaster flights are not what people want to read about when they’re in transit, and very diplomatically suggested that maybe people want to read something that casts air travel in a more positive light,” said Ms. Russell, whose novel “Swamplandia!” was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

She turned in a nostalgia-tinged essay about her first flight on a trip to Disney World when she was 6. “The Magic Kingdom was an anticlimax,” she wrote. “What ride could compare to that first flight?”

Ms. Oates also wrote about her first flight, in a tiny yellow propeller plane piloted by her father. The novelist Joyce Maynard told of the constant disappointment of never seeing her books in airport bookstores and the thrill of finally spotting a fellow plane passenger reading her novel “Labor Day.” Emily St. John Mandel, who was a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction last year, wrote about agonizing over which books to bring on a long flight.

“There’s nobody that’s looked down their noses at us as an in-flight magazine,” said Sean Manning, the magazine’s executive editor. “As big as these people are in the literary world, there’s still this untapped audience for them of luxury travelers.”

United is one of a handful of companies showcasing work by literary writers as a way to elevate their brands and engage customers. Chipotle has printed original work from writers like Toni Morrison, Jeffrey Eugenides and Barbara Kingsolver on its disposable cups and paper bags. The eyeglass company Warby Parker hosts parties for authors and sells books from 14 independent publishers in its stores.

JetBlue offers around 40 e-books from HarperCollins and Penguin Random House on its free wireless network, allowing passengers to read free samples and buy and download books. JetBlue will start offering 11 digital titles from Simon & Schuster soon. Amtrak recently forged an alliance with Penguin Random House to provide free digital samples from 28 popular titles, which passengers can buy and download over Amtrak’s admittedly spotty wireless service.

Amtrak is becoming an incubator for literary talent in its own right. Last year, it started a residency program, offering writers a free long-distance train trip and complimentary food. More than 16,000 writers applied and 24 made the cut.

Like Amtrak, Rhapsody has found that writers are eager to get onboard. On a rainy spring afternoon, Rhapsody’s editorial staff sat around a conference table discussing the June issue, which will feature an essay by the novelist Hannah Pittard and an unpublished short story by the late Elmore Leonard.

“Do you have that photo of Elmore Leonard? Can I see it?” Mr. Heller, the editor in chief, asked Rhapsody’s design director, Christos Hannides. Mr. Hannides slid it across the table and noted that they also had a photograph of cowboy spurs. “It’s very simple; it won’t take away from the literature,” he said.

Rhapsody’s office, an open space with exposed pipes and a vaulted brick ceiling, sits in Dumbo at the epicenter of literary Brooklyn, in the same converted tea warehouse as the literary journal N+1 and the digital publisher Atavist. Two of the magazine’s seven staff members hold graduate degrees in creative writing. Mr. Manning, the executive editor, has published a memoir and edited five literary anthologies.

Mr. Manning said Rhapsody was conceived from the start as a place for literary novelists to write with voice and style, and nobody had been put off that their work would live in plane cabins and airport lounges.

Still, some contributors say they wish the magazine were more widely circulated.

“I would love it if I could read it,” said Ms. Schappell, a Brooklyn-based novelist who wrote a feature story for Rhapsody’s inaugural issue. “But I never fly first class.”

Rhapsody, a Lofty Literary Journal, Perused at 39,000 Feet

With 12 tournament victories in his career, Mr. Peete was the most successful black professional golfer before Tiger Woods.

Calvin Peete, 71, a Racial Pioneer on the PGA Tour, Is Dead

Imagine an elite professional services firm with a high-performing, workaholic culture. Everyone is expected to turn on a dime to serve a client, travel at a moment’s notice, and be available pretty much every evening and weekend. It can make for a grueling work life, but at the highest levels of accounting, law, investment banking and consulting firms, it is just the way things are.

Except for one dirty little secret: Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.

Many of them were, at least, at one elite consulting firm studied by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. It’s impossible to know if what she learned at that unidentified consulting firm applies across the world of work more broadly. But her research, published in the academic journal Organization Science, offers a way to understand how the professional world differs between men and women, and some of the ways a hard-charging culture that emphasizes long hours above all can make some companies worse off.

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Credit Peter Arkle

Ms. Reid interviewed more than 100 people in the American offices of a global consulting firm and had access to performance reviews and internal human resources documents. At the firm there was a strong culture around long hours and responding to clients promptly.

“When the client needs me to be somewhere, I just have to be there,” said one of the consultants Ms. Reid interviewed. “And if you can’t be there, it’s probably because you’ve got another client meeting at the same time. You know it’s tough to say I can’t be there because my son had a Cub Scout meeting.”

Some people fully embraced this culture and put in the long hours, and they tended to be top performers. Others openly pushed back against it, insisting upon lighter and more flexible work hours, or less travel; they were punished in their performance reviews.

The third group is most interesting. Some 31 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women whose records Ms. Reid examined managed to achieve the benefits of a more moderate work schedule without explicitly asking for it.

They made an effort to line up clients who were local, reducing the need for travel. When they skipped work to spend time with their children or spouse, they didn’t call attention to it. One team on which several members had small children agreed among themselves to cover for one another so that everyone could have more flexible hours.

A male junior manager described working to have repeat consulting engagements with a company near enough to his home that he could take care of it with day trips. “I try to head out by 5, get home at 5:30, have dinner, play with my daughter,” he said, adding that he generally kept weekend work down to two hours of catching up on email.

Despite the limited hours, he said: “I know what clients are expecting. So I deliver above that.” He received a high performance review and a promotion.

What is fascinating about the firm Ms. Reid studied is that these people, who in her terminology were “passing” as workaholics, received performance reviews that were as strong as their hyper-ambitious colleagues. For people who were good at faking it, there was no real damage done by their lighter workloads.

It calls to mind the episode of “Seinfeld” in which George Costanza leaves his car in the parking lot at Yankee Stadium, where he works, and gets a promotion because his boss sees the car and thinks he is getting to work earlier and staying later than anyone else. (The strategy goes awry for him, and is not recommended for any aspiring partners in a consulting firm.)

A second finding is that women, particularly those with young children, were much more likely to request greater flexibility through more formal means, such as returning from maternity leave with an explicitly reduced schedule. Men who requested a paternity leave seemed to be punished come review time, and so may have felt more need to take time to spend with their families through those unofficial methods.

The result of this is easy to see: Those specifically requesting a lighter workload, who were disproportionately women, suffered in their performance reviews; those who took a lighter workload more discreetly didn’t suffer. The maxim of “ask forgiveness, not permission” seemed to apply.

It would be dangerous to extrapolate too much from a study at one firm, but Ms. Reid said in an interview that since publishing a summary of her research in Harvard Business Review she has heard from people in a variety of industries describing the same dynamic.

High-octane professional service firms are that way for a reason, and no one would doubt that insane hours and lots of travel can be necessary if you’re a lawyer on the verge of a big trial, an accountant right before tax day or an investment banker advising on a huge merger.

But the fact that the consultants who quietly lightened their workload did just as well in their performance reviews as those who were truly working 80 or more hours a week suggests that in normal times, heavy workloads may be more about signaling devotion to a firm than really being more productive. The person working 80 hours isn’t necessarily serving clients any better than the person working 50.

In other words, maybe the real problem isn’t men faking greater devotion to their jobs. Maybe it’s that too many companies reward the wrong things, favoring the illusion of extraordinary effort over actual productivity.

How Some Men Fake an 80-Hour Workweek, and Why It Matters
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