There are five duties that one must live by if one is a Muslim, these are often called the Five Pillars of Islam.
1. Shahadah, 2. Salah, 3. Zakat, 4. Fasting, 5. Hajj.
Shahadah. This is the main religious belief of all Muslim people and it is a declaration of their faith. The English words are;
There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Or as some muslims prefer... "There is no god but the One God" meaning there is only one God for all mankind.
Anyone who says these words and means it can become a Muslim.
Salah is the name for the obligatory prayers that are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. Salah is prayers that are performed five times a day.
Prayers are led by an Imam in the Masjid. Prayers are said at dawn, mid-day, late-afternoon, sunset and nightfall. Each salah is performed facing towards the Kaba. Salah is compulsory on all Muslims.
This is about looking after other people. Each Muslim gives up a share of his wealth each year to provide for those less fortunate. The word zakat means to purify or cleanse.
As the person gives up a share of his or her wealth they become cleansed from selfishness and greed. This money might be to provide education, keep up or build masjids or help the needy.
Fasting occurs in the ninth month of the islamic calendar. For twenty nine or thirty days Muslims fast, they do not eat or drink during daylight hours. It starts when the new moon is seen at the start of the month and ends when the new moon is seen again at the end of the month.
The fast is to remind them how difficult it is to be poor, hungry and thirsty in a hot place. It reminds them to thank God for his gift of the Qur'an. It also serves to make them think about the essentials and luxuries of life and so not be greedy.
It is obligatory to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a lifetime. Muslims from all walks of life, from every corner of the globe assemble in Mecca in response to the call of Allah(swt).
The pilgrimage to Makkah (the hajj) is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to do so. Nevertheless, over two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another.
The annual hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that hajj and Ramada-n fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments that strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.