MULTIMEDIA

Ramadan in a war zone

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2017 02:12 AM | Updated as of May 28 2017 03:17 AM

Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims. During this time, Muslims engage in fasting, introspection and prayers, and refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. They are supposed to avoid impure thoughts and bad behavior as they go about their day.

But just a few days before Ramadan was to start, Muslims in Marawi City had to change their outlook and drop everything they possessed to seek safe ground away from the turmoil at home.

The Maute group of terrorists laid siege to the city and invited the attention of the national government which had to respond in a way it saw fit -- declaring martial law in Mindanao.

Now, the majority of Muslim residents in the affected areas have to start Ramadan in the unlikeliest of conditions -- far from their peaceful abodes and with thoughts of their affected loved ones in their minds.

In Iligan City, the day starts at the masjid on Mahayahay Street where the Qur'an is broadcast to start the day. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Muslim residents of Iligan read the Qur'an and meditate as they begin the day observing Ramadan. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Muslim residents in Iligan spend the day in prayer and quiet reflection. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Outside the masjid, a Muslim woman visits a convenience store to buy food that will be shared at the end of the day. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Muslim women buy food that will be shared with the family after a day of fasting. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Roasted fish, a favorite during the month of celebration, await buyers at a roadside stall. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

But in the neighboring city of Marawi, the day starts with the roar of a Philippine Air Force attack helicopter as it flies over fighting government soldiers and the Maute group. Erik De Castro, Reuters

Smoke rises in a residential neighborhood in Marawi City as fighting rages between government soldiers and the Maute group. Erik De Castro, Reuters

Government soldiers patrol a deserted street in Marawi City. Erik De Castro, Reuters

Government troops patrol a deserted street near the position of the Maute group as government planes and helicopters bombed militants' position. Ted Aljibe, AFP

Government troops patrol near a school and a masjid in the abandoned area of Marawi City. Ted Aljibe, AFP

Government soldiers stand on guard while evacuees walk past the checkpoint along the main street of Marawi City. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

Soldiers carry the body of a civilian killed allegedly by the Maute group, which has taken over large parts of Marawi City. Marconi Navales, Reuters

Evacuees cram at the Maria Christina evacuation center on Saturday. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Evacuees from the affected area in Marawi seek shelter at the Maria Christina evacuation center on Saturday in Iligan City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Muslim women and children attend to their chores at an evacuation center instead of preparing for the end of fasting and prayers as they usually do during the entire month of Ramadan. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Residents and evacuees alike do their chores in Iligan City as if oblivious to the conflict in Marawi City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

But the lives of the families affected by the war in Marawi City are anything but normal, as they pack an evacuation center in Saguiaran, the town adjacent to Marawi. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A woman prays with her child inside the evacuation center in Saguiaran town. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A man weeps silently, unable to concentrate on his prayers as the holy month of Ramadan starts in the unlikeliest of places, in an evacuation center in Saguiaran, outside Marawi City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News