THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM
There are five "pillars" of Islam or ways in which the Qur'an enjoins the Muslim to worship God. The first we saw at the beginning of this article, the Kalima or "declaration of faith": "There is no deity except God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God." This is the only declaration of belief needed for one to be accepted as a convert into Islam.
The second pillar is prayer (salat). The devout Muslim is called upon to pray five times a day, facing Mecca. The day of public worship is on Friday, when all the adult males gather together at the mosque.43
A period of fasting, called sawm, is the third pillar of Islam. It is to be observed throughout the entire month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar) from dawn until sunset.
Zakat or the "poor due" is the fourth pillar. This is a type of institutionalized alms-giving which consists of two and a half percent of the Muslim's total savings. The money may be given to the poor or go towards furthering Islam (e.g., mosques, religious schools, salaries for the mosque's imam or teacher, etc.).
The final pillar is the Hajj or the pilgrimage to Mecca. This is required of all Muslims at least once during their lifetimes, provided they have the means to do so.