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The attestation of “fasting” in Akkadian is proof of the custom practised in Mesopotamia before the advent of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The entry in the Babylonian and Assyrian combined language knows as Akkadian is this:

ṣūmu : [Human → Hygiene] thirst , fast(ing) + , fasting +

Unsurprisingly, the same word is used in Ancient, Modern and dialectal Arabic ṣūm (صوم). However, surprisingly, the word for breaking the fast in Akkadian is this:

paṭru : 1) : plough … : unhitched , disconnected , unfastened ; 2) shoe … : loosed / loosened / loose ; 3) loins 
 combat gear ?) : loosed / loosened / loose-fitting (?) ; 4) breast irtum : enfeebled , depleted (?) / drained (?) ;

Now, the word in Arabic is “fatar”. The ‘f” is a migration from original ‘Aadite ‘p’. Another migration to ‘b’ from ‘p’ is “batar,” “break, fragment, reduce to pieces, bits,” etc. From it is Arabic “futant,” equivalent to Maltese “ftit”. The biliteral root, *PT” is in English “fit, bit,” and French “petite.”

Maltese ftira is the same as Arabic. It could be a type used in ancient times to break the fast as both Maltese and Arabic derive it from *PT.

Fasting in Islam is obligatory. For charismatic Christians fasting is undertaken at what is described as the leading of God. Fasting is done in order to seek a closer intimacy with God, as well as an act of petition. Some take up a regular fast of one or two days each week as a spiritual observance. Jesus in the Bible says, “when you fast” (Mathew 6:16). It’s not an option — he fully expects believers to fast. Christians can fast at any time of the year.

Here is a short video of scenes from all over the world during the month of Ramadan throughout which which Muslims fast from dawn to evening. Played in he video is a song by the celebrated Indian singer Atif Aslam, called Tajdar-e-Haram.

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Last modified: May 30, 2023

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