Muslims worship Allah by reciting their profession of faith, praying ritual prayers five times a day, giving a tax of alms to the poor, fasting during the month of Ramadan and making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetimes. These obligatory acts are known as the five pillars of Islam.
The profession of faith is called the shahadah, and it asserts that there is no god other than Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger. This declaration must be recited correctly and with understanding as a stipulation of conversion. Daily prayers can be performed in a mosque or elsewhere while facing in the direction of the kaaba in Mecca. Before praying, the worshiper washes his face, hands and feet. The first prayer is recited before sunrise, the next just after noon, the third later in the afternoon, the fourth right after sunset and the last just before bed. Those too sick to stand may pray lying down.
The alms tax, or zakat, is 2.5 percent of money and precious metals. Other rates apply for material goods. Fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, begins at sunrise and ends at sunset. If someone is traveling or sick, the fasting can be postponed.
The hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, must be performed during the Muslim month of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the year. Pilgrims travel to Mecca and follow an elaborate route, performing rituals at specific locations.