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Muslims Celebrate Eid al-Adha, Feast of Sacrifice

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat near Mecca as they perform one of the Hajj rituals, Oct. 3, 2014.

Muslims around the world are celebrating the start of Islam's biggest holiday, Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.

More than two million pilgrims are completing their ritual journey to the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, known as the Hajj.

In the town of Mina, outside Mecca, pilgrims on Saturday participated in the "stoning of the devil" ritual by throwing pebbles at stone pillars, in a re-enactment of the story of the Biblical Prophet Abraham.

The festival commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to God, in a test of his faith.

Muslims are supposed to make the journey to Mecca at least once in their lives, if they are capable of it.

But this year, Saudi Arabia banned more than 7,000 West Africans from the Ebola-stricken nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone from making the journey. An outbreak of the virus in those nations has killed more than 3,000 people and infected twice as many. The ban also includes anyone who has visited those three countries recently.

The three banned countries are home to some 13.2 million Muslims.

It is not the first time Riyadh has taken drastic measures amid an Ebola scare.

When a lethal Ebola outbreak struck in 2012, Muslims from the Democratic Republic of Congo were barred from the pilgrimage.

Some information for this report comes from AP and AFP.

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