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Muslim Filipinos Pray for Peace Ahead of Ramadan

FILE - Thousands of Filipino Muslims take part in morning prayers during Eid al-Fitr celebration, marking the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along a road outside Blue Mosque in Taguig, Metro Manila, August 9, 2013.

Muslims in the Philippine capital of Manila attended the afternoon prayers June 27 and prayed for peace ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic calendar, all healthy adult Muslims are expected to refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours.

This year's holy month is set to start over the weekend in Asia, depending on the sighting of the new moon.

Hundreds of Filipino Muslims listened to the sermon of an imam at the Blue Mosque inside an Islamic community in Manila in preparation for Ramadan.

“We thank for all, we thank Allah for this coming month of Ramadan, because the month of Ramadan is the happiest time that we Muslims celebrate,” said Ahairudden Usman Abdulazis, an Islamic researcher.

Aiyan Jaafar, a devout Muslim follower, said Ramadan is also a time of reflection and sympathy for those who are suffering and hoped that their prayers for peace would be answered.

“We pray that Allah, our one true god, would grant everyone peace, especially in places where there's violence. That is and will be our prayer for everybody, especially for our brother Muslims currently suffering in those countries,” he said.

Islam is the second most popular religion in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, with over five percent of the 97 million population practicing the Muslim faith.

Peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims has been marred by a decades-old war in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao between Islamic separatist groups and the Philippines government.

The Philippines recently signed a peace deal with the largest Islamic militant group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), hoping to finally end the bloodshed that has killed thousands and stagnated the economy of the resource rich region.