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Ebola, MERS free Haj a big success, all pilgrims leave Mina
Tuesday October 7, 2014 9:41 PM, IINA

Haj 2014 has been a resounding success in all terms, authorities announced Monday. The announcement came as over two million pilgrims, having reached the spiritual peak of their lives, performed stoning ritual at the three pillars symbolizing Satan in Mina and then began leaving Makkah after performing Tawaf Al-Wida (farewell circumambulation around the Holy Kaaba).

Haj 2014

The first groups of pilgrims have arrived in Madinah Monday evening and more pilgrims arrived Tuesday to visit the Prophet's Mosque.

Most of the pilgrims had left Mina after performing stoning ritual for the third day on Monday. The remaining pilgrims who stayed back in the Tent City completed the stoning ritual after Dhuhr on Tuesday, the third day of Tashreeq, following the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

They hurled seven pebbles each first at Jamarat Al-Sughra, then at Jamarat Al-Wusta, and finally at Jamarat Al-Aqba, and then they left Mina for Makkah. The pilgrims will perform Tawaf Al-Wida immediately before their departure from Makkah.

Makkah Governor and Chairman of the Central Haj Committee Prince Mishal Bin Abdullah said the Haj operation plan has been successful with performance of rituals by pilgrims in much ease and comfort. He thanked all the concerned agencies who exerted all possible efforts to enable the pilgrims to perform their rituals perfectly.

"I thank the Almighty for helping the pilgrims perform their Haj rituals easily and comfortably," he said.

He congratulated Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman and Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin for the successful Haj operation.

Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, announced that all the goals of the operation plans for the Haj season were accomplished.

"By Monday afternoon, a total of 1.4 million pilgrims were on their way to Makkah after performing the stoning ritual, praise be to God. There was an unprecedented increase in the number of pilgrims who used the ground and fourth levels of the Jamarat but the crowd management mechanism worked well and that enabled pilgrims to perform their rituals safely and comfortably," he said at a press conference in Mina on Monday afternoon.

Hatem Qadi, spokesman of the Ministry of Haj, said that Minister of Haj Bandar Al-Hajjar alerted the tawafa organizations that it is ideal for them to allow 50 percent of their pilgrims to stay back in Mina on Monday so as to avoid overcrowding at the Grand Mosque.

Adel Fakieh, acting health minister, said Haj this year has been completely epidemic-free while authorities engaged thousands of health workers to make sure pilgrims were protected from two deadly viruses, Ebola and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV). As pilgrims performed the final rituals of the Haj and began returning home, Fakieh said: "I am pleased to announce the Haj was free of all epidemic diseases."

Those pilgrims who left Makkah Monday performed Tawaf Al-Wida (farewell circumambulation around the Holy Kaaba), which is the last ritual of the pilgrimage, before their departure.

This year's largely incident-free Haj drew 1.4 pilgrims from 163 nations, in addition to over 600,000 domestic pilgrims, mainly Makkah residents. The Haj drew a cross-section of humanity, from presidents to commoners, including a wounded Syrian rebel war veteran.

"I wish I could always stay here and not return home," said Umm Mohammed, 58, an Indonesian pilgrim.

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