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Allum, Mahomet 1858?-1964

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Born: 1858? [Kandahar, Afghanistan]

Died: 21 March 1964 [Adelaide, South Australia]

Herbalist, camel driver

Allum probably migrated to Australia in the late 1880s and worked in outback areas, particularly in Western Australia and Broken Hill, mostly as a camel driver but also as a station-hand and miner. He settled in Adelaide around 1928 and, at his Sturt Street home, established himself as a herbalist. Allum asked his cured patients to fill out testimonials stating their ailment and the doctors previously consulted and declaring themselves healed by Allum's treatment. Allum published several pamphlets including these testimonials.

In 1935 Allum was charged with posing as a medical practitioner while not registered under the Medical Practitioners Act. Allum defended himself stating that he had never claimed to be a doctor or any other medical practitioner. He was eventually convicted and fined. Allum was convinced that members of the medical profession were behind his prosecution as they were threatened by the fact his patients had become disillusioned with traditional medicine and were more satisfied by his treatments. He considered leaving Australia because of this perceived persecution, but hundreds of happy patients signed a petition asking him not to leave Adelaide. The publicity surrounding the court case only succeeded in bringing in new patients.

Allum married an Australian woman much younger than himself and in 1953 they returned with their daughter to Afghanistan to live. Shortly afterwards Allum's wife died of smallpox and he and his daughter returned to Adelaide in 1954, where he resumed practicing as a herbalist.

Allum published many pamphlets about health matters as well as about Islam and the Koran, although he did not read or write English. He did not ask for payment for his services but left it to patients to pay what they felt they could afford. He donated much of his income to charities and often provided food for the poor of Adelaide.

Did you know?

Allum believed most ailments were caused by an unclean stomach and became well-known for his stomach wash which he called 'blackjack' and was also known as an 'Allum bar'. It was a mixture comprising mainly of butter, honey and senna pods (a type of cassia).

Further reading

Allum, Mahomet. Mahomet Allum, the wonder man : [testimonials from patients], [Adelaide, 1932]

Allum, Mahomet. Why I am leaving Australia, and other interesting articles, Adelaide : [M. Allum?, 1934?] (Adelaide : Hunkin, Ellis & King)

Brunato, Madeleine. Hanji Mahomet Allum : Afghan camel-driver, herbalist and healer in Australia, Leabrook, S.A. : Investigator, 1972

'A friend of the people', The housewife, vol. 2, no. 3 (11 March 1931), p. 30


Australian Dictionary of Biography Online: Search for Mahomet Allum

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