Worship of Allah is foremost in a Muslim's mind all the time. There are also five formal acts of worship which help strengthen a Muslim's faith and obedience. They are often called the "Five Pillars of Islam."

Testimony of Faith (Kalima)

This is simply the declaration, "I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger." As mentioned previously, all of Islam is based on faith in the Unity of God. When one declares this statement, one testifies to the Unity of Allah, and to the message of the Prophethood. When one bears witness that Muhammad is His messenger, one is confirming that all of the prophets before him were also His messengers - Allah is One and His message is one (that is Al-Quran). A person becomes a Muslim when he or she declares this statement with purity of heart and conviction of faith.

Prayer (Salat)

Formal prayer is the most important act of worship; it is mankind's connection to Allah through which one gathers strength, guidance and peace of mind.  Islam prescribes five formal prayers daily, through which Muslims repeat and refresh their beliefs, taking time out of their busy day to remember Allah and renew the effort to follow His guidance. Five times each day (before dawn, noon, afternoon, after sunset, and evening) Muslims rise, cleanse with water, and present themselves directly before Allah for prayer.

Far from being a ritualistic and mindless activity, prayer constantly reminds us of the purpose of life itself, refreshes our faith, and keeps our belief in Allah alive and ever-present. We go back to our wordly affairs conscious of our duties and strengthened against sin. Prayers said in congregation bond Muslims together in love and brotherhood. Prayer also symbolizes the equality of believers; there is no hierarchy, and all stand side-by-side in rows and bow only to Allah.

Aside from the five formal prayers each day, Muslims begin and complete every activity with Allah ever-present in their minds. The words "Bismillah" (In the name of Allah) precede every action, and "Alhamdilillah" (Thanks be to Allah) completes it. Muslims also make private supplications, and words in praise of Allah fall constantly off one's lips.

Fasting (Sawm)

"O you who believe!  Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may learn self-restraint.  Fast for a fixed number of days....Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, and clear signs for guidance and judgment between right and wrong. So every one of you who is present at home during that month should spend it in fasting....Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. He wants you to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance you shall be grateful" (Qur'an 2:183-185).

What the prayers seek to do five times a day, fasting in the month of Ramadan (9th month of the lunar year) does once a year. During this month, Muslims do not eat anything nor drink even a drop of water during the daylight hours.  Each and every moment during the fast, we suppress our desires and remember Allah alone.This places in us a consciousness of duty and a spirit of patience that helps strengthen faith in Allah.Discipline and hardship during this month bring us face to face with the realities of life and the suffering of so many throughout the year.  The whole month is filled with increased devotion, piety, and purity of mind, soul and body.

Almsgiving (Zakat)

Every Muslim whose financial conditions are above a certain specified minimum, must pay annually at least 2.5% of his savings to a deserving needy person, a new convert to Islam, a traveler, or one overwhelmed by debts.This fosters in a Muslim the quality of sacrifice and rids one of selfishness, greed and vanity. As all wealth is a gift from Allah, one has the duty to help his needy brethren when he is able.

Pilgrimage (Hajj)

Once in a lifetime, a Muslim who is financially and physically able must go on the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during the month of Hajj (12th month of the lunar year).  Mecca is the spiritual center of the Muslim world. It was here that Abraham built the first house of worship (the Kaaba), towards which all Muslims stand in unity in their daily prayers.

"The first House of worship appointed for men was that at Bakka (Mecca),
full of blessing and of guidance for all the worlds. It it are Signs manifest -
the Station of Abraham - whoever enters it attains security.  Pilgrimage there to is a
duty men owe to Allah, for those who can afford the journey..."
(Qur'an, Ali Imran:96-97).

When this house was desecrated into a center of pagan worship, it was the prophet Muhammad that cleansed it of its 300+ idols and rededicated it to the worship of Allah alone.

All pilgrims dress in pure white cloth, and are required to suppress passion, refrain from any bloodshed, and be pure in word and deed.

"For Hajj are the months well-known.If any one undertakes the journey therein, let there be no obscenity,nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj.And whatever
good you do, be sure Allah knows it. And take aprovision with you for the
journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct..."
(Qur'an, Al-Baqarah:197).

The pilgrimage is a great international conference, wherein all people, kings or peasants, black or white, stand before Allah as equals.During the ten days of the annual pilgrimage, several million Muslims from all over the world, of all nations, languages, and colors come together in the largest spiritual gathering of the world.

The teachings of Islam indicate a balance between the life of this world and the life of the next.  While often seen as a radical or extreme religion, Muslims consider it the middle road.

"Thus have We made of you a community justly balanced..."
(Qur'an, Al-Baqarah:143).

Muslims do not live this life selfishly, with complete disregard for God. Nor do they neglect the world to devote themselves solely to worship.Muslims strike a balance by fulfilling the obligations of and enjoying this life, always mindful of their duties to Allah and to others.Extremity in either direction is frowned upon.

God-fearing people should be the best in morals and manners.Islam forbids any action which infringes on the rights of others or harms oneself.Forbidden to Muslims are:  dishonesty, theft, murder, suicide, bribery, forgery, interest and usury, gambling, lottery, consumption of alcohol or pork, backbiting, gossiping, slandering, hoarding, destruction of property, cruelty to animals, adultery, fornication, etc.

While forbidding these things, Islam enjoins upon mankind the use of all clean, healthy and useful things, and asks us not to deprive our bodies of clean food and healthy recreation.  Islam also encourages marriage and stable family life, modesty, generosity, hospitality, respect for parents, honorable treatment of women, helping those in need, etc.

The law of Islam forbids public nudity and orders Muslims to use decent and dignified dress.  Muslims are called upon to practice moderation in this area as well.   One of Muhammad's companions once said, "Eat what you wish and wear what you wish if you can avoid two things: extravagance and conceit."  In dress and behavior, Muslims are to be modest.

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty;
that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is Well-Acquainted with
all that they do. And say to the believing womenthat they should lower their 
gaze and guard their modesty; that they should no display their beauty and
ornaments..." (Qur'an, An-Nur:30-31).

According to the Prophet's tradition, no man should expose his body from the navel to the knees, nor should a woman expose any part of her body except her face and hands while in public.  This is called "covering" and to keep these parts covered is the religious duty of every man and woman.Through this directive, Islam cultivates in its followers a deep sense of modesty, purity and respect.

Islam enjoins mankind to control and regulate sexual desires and seek its fulfillment only within the bonds of marriage.  Marriage is a solemn contract, and the basis of a stable family and society.  The Qur'an describes husband and wife as comforts for and protectors of one another.Divorce, while frowned upon, is permitted in cases where the marriage is irrevocably damaged.

Throughout our lives, we must always be respectful of our parents.They suffer and make sacrifices for us throughout our lives. Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said that "Heaven lies under the feet of mothers," so high are they in respect and admiration.  Our duties to our parents come second only to our duties to Allah, and the majority of Muslim families have close extended family ties.

"Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind 
to parents. Whether one orboth of them attain old age in your life, say not to them
a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address themin terms of honor. And,
out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, My Lord! Bestow on
them Your Mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood."
(Qur'an, Al-Israa:23-24).

There is no place in a Muslim's heart for racial, national, gender, or other prejudices.  There is One Creator, and we are all His creation.The diversity of human life is one of the Signs of Allah, part of the beauty of His creation, and something to be admired and respected.

 "And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations 
in your languages and your colors; verily in that are Signs for those who know"
(Qur'an, Ar-Rum:22).

Righteousness is the only distinguishing factor among people.

"O mankind!  We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into
nations and tribes sothat you may know one another.Verily, the most honored among
you in the sight of Allah is the one whois the most righteous.Indeed, Allah is 
All-Knowing, All-Aware" (Qur'an, Al-Hujurat:13).

In dealing with non-Muslims, the believers are instructed not to be intolerant or narrow-minded.  We must not abuse or speak ill of other religious leaders, nor say anything insulting.

"Invite all to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and
argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. For thy Lord knows best
who have strayed from His path, and who receive guidance"
(Qur'an, An-Nahl:125).

We must not seek dissention unnecessarily, but live in peace and amity.Nor can a Muslim pass judgment on whether someone will be to Heaven or Hell - only Allah is the Judge.

"Those who believe in the Qur'an, and those who follow the Jewish scripture, and
the Christians and the Sabians - any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and
work righteousness - shall have their reward with their Lord. One them shall be
no fear, nor shall they grieve" (Qur'an, Al-Baqarah:62).

There is a special place in a Muslim's heart for Christians and Jews, whom the Qur'an calls "People of the Book," meaning people who have received previous scriptures.  Muslims are encouraged to seek good relations especially with them, as they have more in common to us than that with the pagans or atheists.

"...nearest among them in live to the believers will you find those who say, We are Christians,' because among them are men devoted to learning, and men who
have renounced the world, and they are not
arrogant" (Qur'an, Al-Maidah:82).

When arguments or debates arise, Muslims are to treat them with kindness, try to find common ground, and if differences persist, to simply say, "Well, to you be your way, and to me mine."

Muslims are absolutely forbidden from forcing their faith on others; this negates the very idea of free will and choice.  The Qur'an says,

"There is no compulsion in religion..." (Qur'an, Al-Baqarah:256).

It is up to each individual to investigate religion, and personally make a decision as to its validity and their faith in it.  Muslims are not in a position to force anything on anyone - the job of guidance belongs to Allah alone.

"If it had been your Lord's Will, they would all have believed, all who are on
earth! Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe?! No soul
can believe, except by the Will of Allah".
(Qur'an, Al-Yunus:99).