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Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Malaysia Hussein Saeed Qattan. pose for a group photo with Malaysian pilgirms at the Tabung Haji Complex in Sepang. -NSTP/Mohd Fadli Hamzah

SEPANG: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed today advised haj pilgrims to take care of their health while performing the fifth pillar of Islam.

The Prime Minister also urged the pilgrims to follow all health and dietary guidelines recommended by Tabung Haji (TH) and the Health Ministry, to ensure that they would be able to perform their religious duties properly.

“The haj is a worship that requires physical and emotional strength. During the pilgrimage season, millions of Muslims from all over the world gather in the Holy Land. It will be crowded and the weather will be hot.

“All of you will go back and forth to the Masjidil Haram, apart from performing the tawaf, saie, the stoning ritual and other sunat prayers. For this, a healthy and active body is needed,” he added.

The tawaf is an act of circling the Kaabah seven times in a counter-clockwise direction, and for the saie, one has to walk seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah, located adjacent to the Kaabah.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad delivers his speech during the at a sending-off ceremony of Malaysian pilgrims at the Tabung Haji Complex in Sepang. - NSTP/Mohd Fadli Hamzah

Dr Mahathir was speaking at a sending-off ceremony for 483 pilgrims who left for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday evening.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Malaysia Hussein Saeed Qattan.

Dr Mahathir said the haj rituals require all pilgrims to be more patient, tolerant and caring.

He also called upon them to pray for the continued peace and prosperity of the country, adding that it is only through peace that Malaysians could worship without any worry or fear.

“I also advise all pilgrims to use this opportunity to be Allah’s guest as best as possible. Avoid wasting time on things that don’t matter,” he added.

Dr Mahathir also congratulated TH for its commitment and effort in providing better services for haj pilgrims each year.

“I hope TH will continue to be committed and move forward with efforts to improve the level of services, both in terms of pilgrimage, savings, and investment, so that it becomes a model for other Muslim countries around the world to follow.

“I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to the Saudi Embassy to Malaysia for the cooperation given, especially in taking care of the wellbeing of Malaysian pilgrims,” he added.

More than 90 per cent of Malaysian pilgrims have left for Makkah for this year’s haj season.

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