Bengali: Name Abbreviation Mahd. Allum.

English - Canadian
Hello Everybody:

I am doing some research about fisherfolk/mariners in India during the time of the Raj. I came across a chap whose name has been written (in a UK-based source, about the time of the Great War) as "Dewan Mahd. Allum."

My questions:

1. Is "Mahd." an abbreviation for "Muhammed" or "Mahmood"?
2. Can someone please tell me for what "Allum" is an abbreviation?
3. Am I correct in thinking that this person was most likely a Bengali (given the name).

Thank you,

  • 1. These days, Muhammad is usually abbreviated Md. I am not familiar with the conventions from 100 years ago, but Muhammad/Mohammad (and among Bengalis also Mahammad) is a reasonable guess. Mahmood probably fits even better. I have no idea which one to prefer.
    2. Allum is probably not an abbreviation, but the transcription of what is ultimately Arabic عالم (world), pronounced /a:ləm/ in Northen India and /alom ~ alɔm/ in Bengal, and normally spelt Alam now-a-days.
    3. Given the name, it is not really possible to say whether he was Bengali. The best guess is simply a Muslim. However, among the mariners during the Raj, there were a lot of people of Sylheti descent (far East Bengal). So, this is certainly a possibility.

    Apart from "Muhammad/Mahmood Alam" this may also represent Mahmoodul Alam, or if there is a typo (i.e. Mahb. instead of Mahd.) then Mahboobul Alam.

    Sorry for the inconclusive answer.