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Biro Perjalanan Haji dan Umrah yang memfokuskan diri sebagai biro perjalanan yang bisa menjadi sahabat perjalanan ibadah Anda, yang sudah sangat berpengalaman dan dipercaya sejak tahun 2010, mengantarkan tamu Allah minimal 5 kali dalam sebulan ke tanah suci tanpa ada permasalahan. Paket yang tersedia sangat beragam mulai paket umroh 9 hari, 12 hari, umroh wisata muslim turki, dubai, aqso. Biaya umroh murah yang sudah menggunakan rupiah sehingga jamaah tidak perlu repot dengan nilai tukar kurs asing. travel haji khusus Gerogol

Oleh
Syaikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Baz

Diantara Asmaul Husna yang dimiliki Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala adalah Al-Hakim yang bermakna : “Yang menetapkan Hukum, atau Yang mempunyai sifat Hikmah, di mana Allah tidak berkata dan bertindak dengan sia-sia. Oleh karena itulah semua syari’at Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala mempunyai kebaikan yang besar dan manfaat yang banyak bagi hamba-Nya di dunia seperti kebagusan hati, ketenangan jiwa dan kebaikan keadaan. Juga akibat yang baik dan kemenangan yang besar di kampung kenikmatan (akhirat) dengan melihat wajah-Nya dan mendapatkan ridha-Nya.
Demikian pula haji, sebuah ibadah tahunan yang besar yang Allah syari’atkan bagi para hamba-Nya, mempunyai berbagai manfaat yang besar dan tujuan yang besar pula, yang membawa kebaikan di dunia dan akhirat. Dan diantara hikmah ibadah haji ini adalah.

[1]. Mengikhlaskan Seluruh Ibadah
Beribadah semata-mata untuk Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala dan menghadapkan hati kepada-Nya dengan keyakinan bahwa tidak ada yang diibadahi dengan haq, kecuali Dia dan bahwa Dia adalah satu-satunya pemilik nama-nama yang indah dan sifat-sifat yang mulia. Tidak ada sekutu bagi-Nya, tidak ada yang menyerupai-Nya dan tidak ada tandingan-Nya.

Dan hal ini telah diisyaratkan dalam firman-Nya.

“Artinya : Dan ingatlah ketika Kami menempatkan tempat Baitullah untuk Ibrahim dengan menyatakan ; “Janganlah engkau menyekutukan Aku dengan apapun dan sucikan rumah-Ku ini bagi orang-orang yang thawaf, beribadah, ruku dan sujud” [Al-Hajj : 26]

Mensucikan rumah-Nya di dalam hal ini adalah dengan cara beribadah semata-mata kepada Allah di dekat rumah-Nya (Ka’bah) yang mulia, mebersihkan sekitar Ka’bah dari berhala-berhala, patung-patung, najis-najis yang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala haramkan serta dari segala hal yang mengganggu orang-orang yang sedang menjalankan haji atau umrah atau hal-hal lain yang menyibukkan (melalaikan, -pent) dari tujuan mereka.

[2]. Mendapat Ampunan Dosa-Dosa Dan Balasan Jannah
“Dari Abu Hurairah bahwa Nabi Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam bersabda : “Satu umrah sampai umrah yang lain adalah sebagai penghapus dosa antara keduanya dan tidak ada balasan bagi haji mabrur kecuali jannah” [HR Bukhari dan Muslim, Bahjatun Nanzhirin no. 1275]

“Abu Hurairah Radhiyallahu ‘anhu berkata : “Aku mendengar Nabi Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam bersabda bahwa barang siapa berhaji ke Baitullah ini karena Allah, tidak melakukan rafats dan fusuuq, niscaya ia kembali seperti hari ia dilahirkan oleh ibunya” [HR Bukhari]

Rafats : jima’ ; pendahuluannya dan ucapan kotor, Fusuuq : kemaksiatan

Sesungguhnya barangsiapa mendatangi Ka’bah, kemudian menunaikan haji atau umrah dengan baik, tanpa rafats dan fusuuq serta dengan ikhlas karena Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala semata, niscaya Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala mengampuni dosa-dosanya dan menuliskan jannah baginya. Dan hal inilah yang didambakan oleh setiap mu’min dan mu’minah yaitu meraih keberuntungan berupa jannah dan selamat dari neraka.

[3]. Menyambut Seruan Nabi Ibrahima Alaihissalam
“Dan serulah manusia untuk berhaji, niscaya mereka akan datang kepadamu dengan berjalan kaki dan mengendarai unta yang kurus yang datang dari segenap penjuru yang jauh”[Al-Hajj : 27]

Nabi Ibrahim Alaihissalam telah menyerukan (agar berhaji) kepada manusia. Dan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala menjadikan siapa saja yang Dia kehendaki (untuk bisa) mendengar seruan Nabi Ibrahim Alaihissalam tersebut dan menyambutnya. Hal itu berlangsung semenjak zaman Nabi Ibrahim hingga sekarang.

[4]. Menyaksikan Berbagai Manfaat Bagi Kaum Muslimin
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala berfirman : “Agar supaya mereka menyaksikan berbagai manfaat bagi mereka” [Al-Hajj : 28]

Alah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala menyebutkan manfaat-manfaat dengan muthlaq (secara umum tanpa ikatan) dan mubham (tanpa penjelasan) karena banyaknya dan besarnya menafaat-manfaat yang segera terjadi dan nanti akan terjadi baik duniawi maupun ukhrawi.

Dan diantara yang terbesar adalah menyaksikan tauhid-Nya, yakni mereka beribadah kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala semata-mata. Mereka datang dengan niat mencari wajah-Nya yang mulia bukan karena riya’ (dilihat orang lain) dan juga bukan karena sum’ah (dibicarakan orang lain). Bahkan mereka betauhid dan ikhlas kepada-Nya, serta mengikrarkan (tauhid) di antara hamba-hamba-Nya, dan saling menasehati di antara orang-orang yang datang (berhaji dan sebagainya,-pent) tentangnya (tauhid).

Mereka thawaaf mengelilingi Ka’bah, mengagungkan-Nya, menjalankan shalat di rumah-Nya, memohon karunia-Nya, berdo’a supaya ibadah haji mereka diterima, dosa-dosa mereka diampuni, dikembalikan dengan selamat ke nergara masing-masing dan diberi anugerah kembali lagi untuk berdo’a dan merendah diri kepda-Nya.

Mereka mengucapkan talbiyah dengan keras sehingga di dengar oleh orang yang dekat ataupun yang jauh, dan yang lain bisa mempelajarinya agar mengetahui maknanya, merasakannya, mewujudkan di dalam hati, lisan dan amalan mereka. Dan bahwa maknanya adalah : Mengikhlaskan ibadah semata-mata untuk Allah dan beriman bahwa Dia adalah ‘ilah mereka yang haq, Pencipta mereka, Pemberi rizki mereka, Yang diibadahi sewaktu haji dan lainnya.

[5]. Saling Mengenal Dan Saling Menasehati
Dan diantara hikmah haji adalah bahwa kaum muslimin bisa saling mengenal dan saling berwasiat dan menasehati dengan al-haq. Mereka datang dari segala penjuru, dari barat, timur, selatan dan utara Makkah, berkumpul di rumah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala yang tua, di Arafah, di Muzdalifah, di Mina dan di Makkah. Mereka saling mengenal, saling menasehati, sebagian mengajari yang lain, membimbing, menolong, membantu untuk maslahat-maslahat dunia akhirat, maslahat taklim tata cara haji, shalat, zakat, maslahat bimbingan, pengarahan dan dakwah ke jala Allah.

Mereka bisa mendengar dari para ulama, apa yang bermanfaat bagi mereka yang di sana terdapat petunjuk dan bimbingan menuju jalan yang lurus, jalan kebahagiaan menuju tauhidullah dan ikhlas kepada-Nya, menuju ketaatan yang diwajibkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala dan mengetahui kemaksiatan untuk dijauhi, dan supaya mereka mengetahui batas-batas Allah dan mereka bisa saling menolong di dalam kebaikan dan taqwa.

[6]. Mempelajari Agama Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala
Dan diantara manfaat haji yang besar adalah bahwa mereka bisa mempelajari agama Allah dilingkungan rumah Allah yang tua, dan di lingkungann masjid Nabawi dari para ulama dan pembimbing serta memberi peringatan tentang apa yang mereka tidak ketahui mengenai hukum-hukum agama, haji, umrah dan lainnya. Sehingga mereka bisa menunaikan kewajiban mereka dengan ilmu.

Dari Makkah inilah tertib ilmu itu, yaitu ilmu tauhid dan agama. Kemudian (berkembang) dari Madinah, dari seluruh jazirah ini dan dari seluruh negeri-negeri Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala yang ada ilmu dan ahli ilmu. Namun semua asalnya adalah dari sini, dari lingkungan rumah Allah yang tua.

Maka wajib bagi para ulama dan da’i, dimana saja mereka berada, terlebih lagi di lingkungan rumah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala ini, untuk mengajari manusia, orang-orang yang menunaikan haji dan umrah, orang-orang asli dan pendatang serta para penziarah, tentang agama dan manasik haji mereka.

Seorang muslim diperintahkan untuk belajar, bagaimanapun (keadaannya) ia, dimana saja dan kapan saja ; tetapi di lingkungan rumah Allah yang tua, urusan ini (belajar agama) lebih penting dan mendesak.

Dan di antara tanda-tanda kebaikan dan kebahagian seseorang adalah belajar tentang agama Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

“Artinya : Nabi Shallallahu ‘alaihi bersabda : “Barangsiapa yang dikehendaki oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala memperoleh kebaikan, niscaya Dia menjadikan faqih terhadap agama” [HR Bukhari, Kitab Al-Ilmi 3 bab : 14]

Di sini, di negeri Allah, di negerimu dan di negeri mana saja, jika engkau dapati seorang alim ahli syari’at Allah, maka pergunakanlah kesempatan. Janganlah engkau takabur dan malas. Karena ilmu itu tidak bisa diraih oleh orang-orang yang takabur, pemalas, lemah serta pemalu. Ilmu itu membutuhkan kesigapan dan kemauan yang tinggi.

Mundur dari menuntut ilmu, itu bukanlah sifat malu, tetapi suatu kelemahan. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala berfirman.

“Artinya : Dan Allah tidak malu dari kebenaran” [Al-Ahzab : 53]

Karenanya seorang mukmin dan mukminah yang berpandangan luas, tidak akan malu dalam bab ini ; bahkan ia maju, bertanya, menyelidiki dan menampakkan kemusykilan yang ia miliki, sehingga hilanglah kemusykilan tersebut.

[7]. Menyebarkan Ilmu
Di antara manfaat haji adalah menyebarkan ilmu kepada saudara-saudaranya yang melaksanakan ibadah haji dan teman-temannya seperjalanan, yang di mobil, di pesawat terbang, di tenda, di Mekkah dan di segala tempat. Ini adalah kesempatan yang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala anugerahkan. Engkau bisa menyebarkan ilmu-mu dan menjelaskan apa yang engkau miliki, akan tetapi haruslah dengan apa yang engkau ketahui berdasarkan Al-Kitab dan As-Sunnah dan istimbath ahli ilmu dari keduanya. Bukan dari kebodohan dan pemikiran-pemikiran yang menyimpang dari Al-Kitab dan As-Sunnah.

[8]. Memperbanyak Ketaatan
Di antara manfaat haji adalah memperbanyak shalat dan thawaf, sebagaimana firman Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

“Artinya : Kemudian hendaklah mereka menghilangkan kotoran yang ada pada badan mereka ; hendaklah mereka menyempurnakan nadzar-nadzar mereka dan hendaklah mereka berthawaf sekeliling rumah yang tua itu (Ka’bah)” [Al-Hajj : 29]

Maka disyariatkan bagi orang yang menjalankan haji dan umrah untuk memperbanyak thawaf semampunya dan memperbanyak shalat di tanah haram. Oleh karena itu perbanyaklah shalat, qira’atul qur’an, tasbih, tahlil, dzikir. Juga perbanyaklah amar ma’ruf nahi mungkar dan da’wah kepada jalan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala di mana banyak orang berkumpul dari Afrika, Eropa, Amerika, Asia dan lainnya. Maka wajib bagi mereka untuk mempergunakan kesempatan ini sebaik-baiknya.

[9]. Menunaikan Nadzar
Walaupun nadzar itu sebaiknya tidak dilakukan, akan tetapi seandainya seseorang telah bernadzar untuk melakukan ketaatan, maka wajib baginya untuk memenuhinya.

Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam bersabda.

“Artinya : Barangsiapa bernadzar untuk mentaati Allah, maka hendaklah dia mentaati-Nya” [HR Bukhari]

Maka apabila seseorang bernadzar di tanah haram ini berupa shalat, thawaf ataupun ibadah lainnya, maka wajib baginya untuk menunaikannya di tanah haram ini.

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala berfirman.

“Artinya : Dan hendaklah mereka menunaikan nadzar” [Al-Hajj : 29]

[10]. Menolong Dan Berbuat Baik Kepada Orang Miskin
Di antara manfaat haji adalah bisa menolong dan berbuat baik kepada orang miskin baik yang sedang menjalankan haji atau tidak di negeri yang aman ini.

Seseorang dapat mengobati orang sakit, menjenguknya, menunjukkan ke rumah sakit dan menolongnya dengan harta serta obat.

Ini semua termasuk manfaat-manfaat haji.

“Artinya : ….agar mereka menyaksikan berbagai manfaat bagi mereka” [Al-Hajj : 28]

[11]. Memperbanyak Dzikir Kepada Allah
Di negeri yang aman ini hendaklah memperbanyak dzikir kepada Allah, baik dalam keadaan berdiri, duduk dan bebaring, dengan tasbih (ucapan Subhanallah), hamdalah (ucapan Alhamdulillah), tahlil (ucapan Laa ilaaha ilallah), takbir (ucapan Allahu Akbar) dan hauqallah (ucapan Laa haula wa laa quwata illa billah).

“Artinya : Dari Abu Musa Al-As’ari Radhiyallahu ‘anhu bahwa Nabi Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam bersabda : “Perumpamaan orang yang mengingat Rabb-nya dan yang tidak mengingat-Nya adalah sebagai orang hidup dan yang mati”. [HR Bukhari, Bahjatun Nadzirin no. 1434]

[12]. Berdo’a Kepada-Nya
Di antara manfaat haji, hendaknya bersungguh-sungguh merendahkan diri dan terus menerus berdo’a kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, agar Dia menerima amal, membereskan hati dan perbuatan ; agar Dia menolong untuk mengingat-Nya, bersyukur kepada-Nya dan memperbagus ibadah kepada-Nya ; agar Dia menolong untuk menunaikan kewajiban dengan sifat yang Dia ridhai serta agar Dia menolong untuk berbuat baik kepada hamba-hamba-Nya.

[13]. Menunaikan Manasik Dengan Sebaik-Baiknya
Di antara manfaat haji, hendaknya melaksanakannya dengan sesempurna mungkin, dengan sebaik-baiknya dan seikhlas mungkin baik sewaktu melakukan thawaf, sa’i, wukuf di Arafah, berada di Muzdalifah, melempar jumrah, maupun sewaktu shalat, qira’atul qur’an, berdzikir, berdo’a dan lainnya. Juga hendaknya mengupayakannya dengan kosentrasi dan ikhlas.

[14]. Menyembelih Kurban
Di antara manfaat haji adalah menyembelih (binatang) kurban, baik yang wajib tatkala berihram tammatu dan qiran, maupun tidak wajib yaitu untuk taqarrub kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

Sewaktu haji wada’ Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam telah berkurban 100 ekor binatang. Para sahabat juga menyembelih kurban. Kurban itu adalah suatu ibadah, karena daging kurban dibagikan kepada orang-orang miskin dan yang membutuhkan di hari-hari Mina dan lainnya.

Demikianlah sebagian hikmah dari ibadah haji (rukun Islam yang ke lima) mudah-mudahan kita bisa mengambil manfaatnya, dan senantiasa diberi petunjuk dari Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala serta diberi kemudahan untuk menunaikannya. Amin

[Disalin dari Majalah As-Sunnah Edisi 09/Tahun III/1419H/1999M, Disadur oleh Abu Shalihah dari Majalah Al-Furqon nomor 72 hal.18-21. Penebit Yayasan Lajnah Istiqomah Surakarta, Jl. Solo – Purwodadi Km 8 Selokaton Gondangrejo – Solo 57183 ]

Sumber : http://www.alquran-sunnah.com

Baca Artikel Lainnya : PANDUAN UNTUK MELAKSANAKAN IBADAH HAJI

HIKMAH DARI IBADAH HAJI ATAU RUKUN ISLAM YANG KE LIMA

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?”

Photo
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 Litís Power Couple

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