Sebelum kedatangan Islam, masyarakat Arab pra-lslam atau lebih dikenal dengan Arab Jahiliyah melakukan banyak penyelewengan terhadap ajaran-ajaran Nabi Ibrahim AS Dengan maksud menghindari bulan Muharram. Di bulan itu, mereka dilarang berperang.

Masyarakat Arab Jahiliyah melakukan modifikasi terhadap sistem penanggalan mereka. Mereka menggunakan penghitungan bulan dengan sistem penggeseran, sehingga bulan Dzulhijjah bergeser ke bulan Muharram, Muharram bergeser ke Safar, dan seterusnya. Dengan begitu, pelaksanaan ibadah haji berubah-ubah setiap tahun. Jika tahun ini haji dilaksanakan pada bulan Muharram atau mereka menyebutnya Safar Awal, misalnya, maka tahun berikutnya haji dilakukan pada bulan Safar atau mereka sebut Safar Tsani, demikian seterusnya.

Pada zaman Jahiliyah, jamaah haji terbagi menjadi dua kelas sosial, yaitu masyarakat non-pedagang dan masyarakat pedagang. Jamaah haji dari kalangan pedagang harus pergi meninggalkan kampung halaman mereka satu bulan atau lebih sebelum musim haji dimulai.

Hal itu ditujukan agar mereka dapat berdagang di Pasar Ukaz selama dua puluh hari. Dari sana, mereka pindah ke Pasar Majnah dan berjualan selama sepuluh hari. Setelah tampak hilal (bulan yang muncul pada setiap tanggai satu) bulan Dzulhijjah, Pasar Majnah ditutup dan mereka bergerak ke kawasan Dzul Majaz untuk berniaga. Di tempat tersebut mereka menetap selama 8 hari. Baru pada Hari Tarwiyah (8 Dzulhijjah) mereka pergi ke Arafah untuk melakukan wukuf.

Lain halnya dengan jamaah haji pedagang, mereka bertolak dari tempat tinggal mereka pada Hari Tarwiyah dan langsung melaksanakan wukuf. Sebagian dari mereka mengerjakan wukuf di Padang Arafah dan sebagian yang lain melakukannya di Namirah, yaitu sebuah daerah yang terletak di tapal batas Tanah Haram.

Sebelum malam, mereka beranjak menuju Muzdalifah. Baru keesokan harinya para jamaah haji non-pedagang itu bergerak menuju Mina. Dari Mina, mereka akan menuju ke Makkah untuk melaksanakan thawaf.

Sejumlah suku Arab pada masa Jahiliyah menetapkan suatu aturan bagi jamaah haji yang pertama kali melakukan ritual tersebut, yaitu menanggalkan seluruh pakaian yang mereka kenakan. Alasannya, pakaian tersebut tidak suci sehingga tidak pantas dikenakan dalam ritual haji. Itu sebabnya, para jamaah haji tersebut melakukan thawaf dengan telanjang bulat.

Namun demikian, aturan tersebut hanya berlaku bagi masyarakat kelas bawah. Orang-orang yang berasal dari kelas sosial menengah ke atas diperbolehkan mengenakan pakaian selama melakukan thawaf meski mereka juga baru pertama menunaikan haji. Akan tetapi, selesai melakukan thawaf pakaian tersebut harus dibuang dan tidak boleh digunakan lagi.

Dalam rangkaian kegiatan haji yang dilakukan oleh masyarakat Arab Jahiliyah, terdapat unsur-unsur tertentu yang menyerupai tuntunan haji yang diajarkan oleh Nabi Ibrahim AS dan Ismail AS. Ini menjadi bukti bahwa masyarakat Arab Jahiliyah sebenarnya masih mempertahankan sebagian ajaran Nabi Ibrahim AS.

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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.

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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