Jasa Sewa Rental Ambulance Medis Murah Berkualitas Terpercaya

 
1- Zakat Mata Uang
Jika harta seseorang senilai 85 gram emas atau 595 gram perak, dengan hitungan nilai pada saat dia mengeluarkan zakat sesuai dengan nilai mata uang negara orang yang membayar zakat, maka dia keluarkan zakatnya sebanyak 2½ %, setelah setiap putaran tahun hijriyah dan harta sampai senisab.
Suatu contoh: Seseorang mempunyai harta seba-nyak Rp.10.000.000,-, setelah satu tahun putaran, maka dia harus mengeluarkan zakat sebagai berikut:
Rp.10.000.000,-
x
25
1000
=
Rp.250.000,-
2- Zakat Utang Piutang
Jika seseorang memberi pinjaman kepada orang lain dan masa pinjaman berlalu beberapa waktu, maka menurut pendapat ulama yang paling mudah*1, orang yang memberi pinjaman harus mengeluarkan zakat piutang dalam jangka setahun saja walaupun hutang tersebut berlalu bertahun-tahun.
Suatu contoh Aiman memberi pinjaman uang ke- pada seseorang yang bernama Ahmad sebanyak Rp. 15.000.000,- dan pinjaman tersebut bertahan pada Ahmad selama tiga tahun, maka siapa yang wajib mengeluarkan zakat dan berapa jumlah zakat yang harus dibayar?
Yang berkewajiban mengeluarkan zakat adalah Aiman karena dia pemilik harta tersebut dan dia wajib mengeluarkan zakat dalam jangka setahun saja sebesar:
Rp.15.000.000,-
x
25
1000
x
1 tahun = Rp.375.000,-
*1 Demikian itu adalah pendapat Imam Malik baik utang yang diharapkan pengembaliannya atau tidak dengan syarat tidak diakhirkan penyerahan-nya tersendiri dari zakat. Jika tidak, maka wajib mengeluarkan zakat tiap tahun yang telah berlalu dari masa hutang. Sebagaimana pendapat Ibnu Qasim Al-Maliki bahwa yang lebih hati-hati adalah mengeluarkan zakat piutang setiap tahun sepanjang masa piutang seperti pendapat madzhab Hambali.
3- Zakat Profesi
Jika seorang muslim memperoleh pendapatan dari hasil usaha atau profesi tertentu, maka dia boleh menge-luarkan zakatnya langsung 2½ % pada saat penerimaan setelah dipotong kebutuhan bulanannya atau menunggu putaran satu tahun dan dikeluarkan zakatnya bersama dengan harta benda lain yang wajib dizakati senilai 2½ %.
Suatu contoh: Seseorang memiliki harta yang diza-kati setiap tahun di awal bulan Muharram, jika dia mene-rima gaji pada bulan Ramadhan, maka dia boleh memilih ketentuan di bawah ini:
Mengeluarkan zakat profesi dari gaji bulan Rama-dhan tersendiri pada bulan itu *2 atau,
Ditunda pembayaran zakat profesi digabung dengan harta yang lain dan dikeluarkan secara bersama pada bulan Muharram.
Secara kaidah bahwa harta itu wajib dizakati sekali dalam setahun.
*2 Termasuk harta profesi antara lain gaji atau pendapatan dari suatu profesi atau keahlian, boleh dikeluarkan zakatnya tanpa menunggu putaran haul (tahun), tetapi tidak boleh dizakati dua kali dalam setahun.
4- Zakat Saham dan Kertas Berharga
Saham dan kertas berharga*3 bila telah sampai seni-sab wajib dikeluarkan zakatnya bersama keuntungannya, seperti nisab mata uang dan kadar zakat sebesar 2½ %.
Suatu contoh: Seseorang memiliki saham, pada saat mau mengeluarkan zakatnya saham tersebut menurut harga pasar senilai Rp.50.000.000,- dan tiap tahun mendapat-kan laba sebesar Rp.5.000.000,- sehingga jumlah harta keseluruhan sebesar Rp.50.000.000,- + Rp.5.000.000,- = Rp.55.000.000,-.
Zakatnya: Rp.55.000.000,-
x
25
1000
=
Rp.1.375.000,-
*3 Kertas berharga biasanya tercampur dengan nilai yang haram yaitu riba, tetap wajib dikeluarkan zakatnya, karena dibolehkan menyalurkan hasil yang haram untuk kepentingan umum kaum muslimin
5- Zakat Perhiasan Wanita
Pendapat tengah-tengah di antara pendapat para ulama adalah pendapat yang diriwayatkan dari Anas bin Malik radhiallaahu anhu bahwa beliau berfatwa tentang wajibnya zakat perhiasan sekali dalam seumur dan bukan setiap putaran haul (tahun)*4 , tetapi jika membeli perhiasan lain maka dia harus mengeluarkan zakat perhiasan yang baru dibeli itu dengan syarat barang tersebut hanya untuk perhiasan*5. Adapun peralatan dan wadah yang terbuat dari emas bila telah sampai senisab, maka harus dikeluarkan zakatnya.
Suatu contoh: Seorang wanita memiliki perhiasan emas seberat 100 gram yang dipakai untuk perhiasan, bagaimana mengeluarkan zakatnya?
Jawab: Wajib bagi wanita mengeluarkan zakat per-hiasan tersebut sekali dalam seumur.
100 x 2½
=
25
100
gr. atau berupa uang senilai 2½ gr.
Jika dia membeli lagi emas untuk perhiasan sebe-rat 100 gram, maka dia harus mengeluarkan zakatnya sebesar 2½ gram sekali saja seumur hidup.
*4 Pendapat ini terdapat dalam kitab Al-Muhalla 6/78 dan Sunan Kubra 4/ 138
*5 Kadar zakat yang wajib dikeluarkan baik emas maupun perak sebesar 2½ %.
6- Zakat Apartemen, Perkantoran dan Tanah Persewaan
(A). Barangsiapa yang memiliki apartemen, ruko atau tanah yang disewakan, maka dia wajib mengeluar-kan zakat dari hasil penyewaan sebesar 2½ %, bila telah sampai senisab.
Suatu contoh: Seseorang memiliki ruko untuk disewakan tahunan dengan nilai sewa sebesar Rp.20.000.000,- bagaimana cara mengeluarkan zakatnya?
Jawab: Kadar zakatnya 2½%
Rp.20.000.000,-
x
25
1000
=
Rp.500.000,-
Catatan: Jika gedung tersebut belum ada yang menyewa maka belum ada kewajiban mengeluarkan zakat.
(B). Jika seseorang menjual gedung tersebut, ma-ka dia wajib mengeluarkan zakat dari hasil penjualan sebesar 2½ %.
Suatu contoh: Seseorang memiliki tanah kosong kemudian dijual dan laku seharga Rp.100.000.000,- dan se-belum terjual tanah tersebut berada di bawah kepemilikan-nya selama tiga tahun tanpa mendapatkan keuntungan karena tidak ada yang menyewa. Maka dia wajib menge-luarkan zakat dari hasil penjualan saja dengan perincian:
Rp.100.000.000,-
x
25
1000
=
Rp.2.500.000,-
Dan dikeluarkan cukup setahun itu saja sesuai de-ngan pendapat yang paling mudah.*6
Kaidah: Jika gedung atau tanah tersebut diguna-kan untuk keperluan pribadi tidak wajib dizakati.
*6 Demikian itu adalah pendapat dari madzhab Malikiyah, alasan mereka bahwa harta persewaan sebelum terjual tidak berkembang sehingga tidak harus dizakati. Lihat Syarh Kabir dan Hasyiyah Dasuqi 1/457. Dan untuk lebih hati-hati sebaiknya mengeluarkan zakatnya setiap tahun bila jelas tanah tersebut d iproyeksikan untuk niaga.
7- Zakat Perdagangan
Seorang pedagang hendaknya menghitung jumlah nilai barang dagangan dengan harga asli lalu digabung-kan dengan keuntungan bersih setelah dipotong piutang. Kadar zakatnya 2½ %.*7
Suatu contoh: Seorang pedagang menjumlah barang dagangan di akhir tahun dengan jumlah total Rp. 200.000.000,- dan laba bersih sebesar Rp.50.000.000,- sementara dia mempunyai hutang sebesar Rp.100.000.000,-.
Modal dikurangi hutang: Rp.200.000.000,- – Rp. 100.000.000,- = Rp.100.000.000,-
Jumlah harta zakat: Rp.100.000.000,- + Rp. 50.000.000,- = Rp.150.000.000,-
Zakatnya: Rp.150.000.000,-
x
25
1000
=
Rp.3.750.000,-
*7 Modal tetap tidak wajib dizakati seperti gedung, perkakas dan alat opera-sional perdagangan
8- Zakat Tanaman
Jika biji-bijian atau buah-buahan*8 telah sampai senisab yaitu lima wasak atau seberat + 670 kg, maka wajib dikeluarkan zakatnya 10% bila disiram dengan air hujan dan 5% jika menggunakan alat atau memindah air dari tempat lain dengan kendaraan atau yang lainnya.
Suatu contoh: Seorang petani memetik hasil panen sebanyak lima ton gandum dan dua ton korma, maka berapa zakat yang harus dikeluarkan jika dia mengguna-kan alat penyiram tanaman?
Zakat gandum: 5000
x
5
100
=
250 kg.
Zakat korma: 2000
x
5
100
=
100 kg.
*8 Hasil-hasil pertanian selain biji-bijian dianggap sebagai buah-buahan, seperti sayur mayur segar dan buahan-buahan masih dalam kelompok barang-barang niaga yang kadar zakatnya 2½ %. Meskipun Madzhab Hanafi berpendapat wajib mengeluarkan zakat setiap tanaman yang ditumbuhkan bumi sekadar 5% atau 10% sebagaimana penjelasan yang telah lalu.
9- Zakat Peternakan
Jika seseorang memiliki lima onta, maka ia wajib mengeluarkan zakat seekor kambing dan jika memiliki tiga puluh sapi, maka dia harus mengeluarkan tabi’i (sapi yang berumur setahun). Jika memiliki kambing empat puluh, maka dia wajib mengeluarkan zakat seekor kambing. Apabila jumlah hewan ternak lebih dari hitung-an di atas, maka cara mengeluarkan zakat seperti pada tabel di bawah ini:
Selain hewan yang tersebut di atas masuk dalam kelompok barang niaga bila diproyeksikan sebagai barang perdagangan.
Tabel Zakat Hewan Ternak yang Hidup di Padang Gembala
Tabel Zakat Kambing
Nisab
Zakat yang harus dikeluarkan
Dari
Sampai
40
120
1 Kambing
121
200
2 Kambing
201
 
3 Kambing
Kemudian setiap 100 kambing zakatnya seekor kambing
* Tidak boleh mengambil zakat berupa pejantan, hewan yang sudah tua sekali, cacat atau paling buruk.
* Tidak boleh mengambil zakat berupa hewan pincang, hewan betina yang mau melahirkan, hewan potong atau hewan termahal.
Tabel Zakat Onta
Nisab
Zakat yang harus dikeluarkan
Dari
Sampai
5
9
1 Kambing
10
14
2 Kambing
15
19
3 Kambing
20
24
4 Kambing
25
35
1 Bintu Makhadh
36
45
1 Bintu labun
46
60
1 Hiqqah
61
75
1 Jad’ah
76
90
2 Bintu Labun
91
120
2 Hiqqah
121
 
3 Bintu Labun
Kemudian setiap 40 onta zakatnya satu Bintu Labun dan setiap 50 onta zakatnya 1 Hiqqah.
Bintu Makhadh adalah onta yang telah berumur satu tahun, dinamakan seperti itu karena induknya sedang hamil.
Bintu Labun adalah onta yang telah berumur dua tahun, dinamakan seperti itu karena induknya sedang menyusui lagi.
Hiqqah adalah onta yang telah berumur tiga tahun, dinamakan seperti itu karena sudah mampu dan berhak dikendarai.
Jad’ah adalah onta telah yang berumur empat tahun
Tabel Zakat Sapi
Nisab
Zakat yang harus dibayarkan
Dari
Sampai
30
39
1 Tabii’ atau Tabii’ah
40
59
1 Musinnah
60
 
2 Tabii’ah
Kemudian setiap tiga puluh sapi zakatnya satu tabii’i dan setiap empat puluh sapi satu Musinnah.
* Tabii’ atau Tabii’ah adalah sapi yang telah berumur satu tahun.
* Musinnah adalah sapi yang telah berumur dua tahun.
10- Zakat Madu Tawon
Jika hasil madu mencapai nisab seberat 670 kg, maka harus dikeluarkan zakatnya sebesar 10 % dari be-rat bersih madu setelah dipotong biaya produksi.
Suatu contoh: Zakat 1000 kg madu adalah:
1000 kg
x
10
100
=
100 kg.
11- Zakat Barang Tambang
Hasil tambang dan minyak serta gas bumi hasilnya harus disalurkan ke Baitul Mal untuk kepentingan umum dan kebutuhan ummat.
Jika ada seseorang atau perusahaan diberi kesem-patan menambang dan mengolah barang tambang terse-but, maka dia harus mengeluarkan zakat sebesar 2½ % dari penghasilan yang telah dikelola. Termasuk kelom-pok barang tambang yaitu seluruh bahan bangunan seperti batu atau pasir, juga harus dikeluarkan zakatnya sebesar 2½ % dari hasil yang telah diperoleh.*9
*9 Zakat hasil tambang tidak disyaratkan putaran haul (tahun), wajib menge-luarkan zakat pada saat barang tambang telah selesai proses pengolahan.
12- Zakat Hasil Laut dan Perikanan
Jika seorang nelayan atau perusahaan pengolah hasil laut menangkap ikan kemudian hasil tersebut dijual, maka dia wajib mengeluarkan zakat seperti zakat niaga yaitu 2½% (*10) demikian itu bila hasilnya telah sampai senisab seperti nisabnya mata uang.
Suatu contoh: Suatu perusahaan penangkap ikan menghasilkan satu ton ikan, kemudian dijual kepada konsumen seharga Rp.4.000.00,-, berapa zakat yang harus dibayar.*11
Zakatnya: Rp.4.000.000,-
x
25
1000
=
Rp.100.000,-
*10 Pendapat ini diriwayatkan dari Imam Ahmad seperti yang telah disebut-kan dalam kitab Al-Mughni 3/28.
*11 Artinya nilai jual ikan seharga nisabnya mata uang yaitu 85 gr emas
13- Zakat Fitrah
A. Setiap muslim wajib membayar zakat fitrah setelah matahari terbenam akhir bulan Ramadhan dan lebih utama jika dibayarkan sebelum keluar shalat Idul Fitri dan boleh dibayarkan dua hari sebelum hari raya *12 , demi menjaga kemaslahatan orang fakir. Dan haram mengakhirkan pembayaran zakat fitrah hingga habis shalat dan barangsiapa melakukan perbuatan tersebut, maka harus menggantinya.*13
B. Seorang muslim wajib membayar zakat untuk dirinya dan orang-orang yang menjadi tanggung jawab-nya seperti isterinya, anaknya, dan pembantunya yang muslim. Akan tetapi boleh bagi seorang isteri atau anak atau pembantu membayar zakat sendiri.
C. Kadar zakat fitrah yang harus dibayar*14 adalah satu sha’ dari makanan pokok negara setempat, dan satu sha’ untuk ukuran sekarang kira-kira 2,176 kg (keten-tuan ini sesuai makanan pokok gandum).
Dan kita bisa menggunakan tangan untuk menjadi takaran dengan cara kita penuhi kedua telapak tangan sebanyak empat kali. Karena satu mud sama dengan genggaman dua telapak tangan orang dewasa dan satu sha’ sama dengan empat mud.
Contoh: Seseorang mempunyai satu isteri dan empat orang anak serta satu pembantu muslim, berapa dia harus membayar zakat fitrah untuk mereka?
Dengan ukuran sha’ dia harus membayar 7 x 1 sha’ = 7 sha’
Dengan takaran atau timbangan sekarang berupa gandum: 7 x 2,176 kg = 15,232 kg atau lima belas kilo dua ratus tiga puluh dua gram.
Dan dengan kita meraup gandum dengan dua tela-pak tangan: 7 x 4 = 28 kali raupan dari makanan pokok baik berupa korma, gandum, anggur kering, susu ke-ring, jagung atau beras.
D. Dianjurkan mengeluarkan zakat dengan makanan*15 , Imam Abu Hanifah membolehkan membayar dengan uang dan ini pendapat yang lebih mudah terlebih bagi lingkungan industri.*16
Kadar nilai zakat disesuaikan dengan harga makan-an pokok masing-masing negara, jika seseorang ingin membayar zakat dengan korma sebanyak dua puluh kilo, maka hendaknya dia harus menanyakan harga kor-ma per kilo untuk ukuran korma sedang, lalu dihitung dengan mata uang setempat.
*12 Menurut madzhab Hambali boleh mengeluarkan zakat setelah pertengah-an bulan Ramadhan, pendapat ini lebih mempermudah khususnya bagi negara yang menangani langsung pembayaran zakat fitrah, atau jika yang menangani itu yayasan-yayasan sosial, sehingga mempermudah mereka dalam pengumpulan dan pembagiannya pada hari Ied.
*13 Lihat Nailul Authar, 4/195. Fiqhuz Zakah: 1/155.
*14 Dalam zakat fitrah tidak mengenal nisab, di saat ada kelebihan dari kebutuhan makanan pada malam hari raya untuk dirinya dan keluarga-nya, maka seseorang wajib membayar zakat fitrah.
*15 Para ulama madzhab tiga (Imam Malik, Syafi’i dan Ahmad) tidak membo-lehkan mengeluarkan zakat fitrah dengan uang.
*16 Fiqhuz Zakah , 1/949. Penulis pernah membuat semacam ide yang disampaikan lewat mimbar pada tahun 1404 H. hendaknya zakat fitrah dikelola oleh pemerintah atau Lembaga Islam kemudian disalurkan kepada yang berhak dan yang membutuhkan baik di dalam maupun luar negeri khususnya negara-negara yang terkena krisis seperti negara Afrika atau Asia yang banyak menderita kelaparan. Apalagi kristenisasi sangat gencar dengan berkedok bantuan sosial berupa makanan atau obat-obatan untuk bantuan kelaparan dan bencana alam dimanfaatkan untuk pemurtadan sehingga banyak di antara kaum muslimin yang keluar dari Islam hanya karena sesuap nasi seperti yang terjadi di Indonesia.
Jika zakat fitrah tersebut bisa dikumpulkan setelah pertengahan bulan Ramadhan, maka sangat mungkin zakat fitrah tersebut disalurkan kepada yang berhak pada waktu itu juga. Dengan demikian pada saat hari raya orang-orang kelaparan bisa merasa kenyang dan kecukupan, bila tidak apa mungkin seseorang dipaksa bergembira di hari raya sementara kela-paran melilitnya.
 
 
PERHITUNGAN ZAKAT MENURUT ISLAM

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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