Muslims and the Policy of Racial Exclusion from 1901
The Immigration Restriction Act was passed in 1901 as soon as the new Commonwealth Parliament was established. It provided that all ‘coloured’ people trying to enter Australia would be required to submit to a medical examination and to a dictation test. This test could be in any European language. In practice this meant any language of which that individual was ignorant. Resident ‘coloureds’ were also required to apply for a special certificate to enter another state. The free crossing of inland borders, a necessity for the Afghan cameleers inland trade, was thus abolished at a stroke. This discrimination was intensified by the 1902 Roads Act.
The 1904 petition against this Act, addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, signed by M.H. Musakhan and 2,500 camel men, indicates how the camel men interpreted it at the time..
The intent of the legislation was very clear. It placed a registration fee on each camel, varying from five pounds per annum on bull camels over the age of three, the breeders, to one pound for camels which were hired out. This was added to the license fee of ten shillings a year on all camels used in transport. It also prevented “any camel from being driven along any part of a road or track or within 20 yards of the centre thereof”.
Obviously dismayed, the petitioners complained that it was meant to favour horse teamsters showing that “…a team of camels carrying the same load as the wagon team and doing no harm to the road, while the wagon ploughs into it, is taxed at from 20 pounds to 35 pounds per annum as against the tax on a horse team of one pound.”
There is a poignancy in their spirited defence of their industry, indicating a failure to comprehend the nature of the new Federation with its emphasis upon racial purity. That the petition was address to the State Parliament also suggests some unfamiliarity with the new political and constitutional situation. It was hard for these men to understand why an industry which had been so valuable to the nation would be deliberately sabotaged. It seemed self-evident that camels and their Afghan drivers were embedded into the history of the country and would continue to be needed for years to come.
“IT has been said that the history of the goldfields is the history of the State and if that be so, the camel industry is as indissolubly bound up in that history as are the miners themselves, and it may be truly claimed that it has been one of the principal aids, if not the foremost one, in changing an obscure and barren corner of the Empire into one of its richest and most important territories. Nor is the utility of the camel confined to the gold miner. In survey, in telegraph work, in the Police, in water carriage, in exploration, camels are a most valuable auxiliary. They are an absolute necessity to life in the dry districts. They are now being utilised by the State in the work of fencing out that deadly foe to agriculture, the rabbit pest. They are essential to the wool industry to carry wool to the seaports. They will shortly be required in large numbers in the survey of the transcontinental railway and thereafter, in still greater numbers in the construction of the railway itself.
YOUR Petitioners would submit therefore, that, apart from all other considerations, it is a short-sighted policy to discourage an industry that has been so useful to the state in the past and that, in the immediate future will again become a crying need. Not until the whole area of Australia is brought into use, not until the wastes of the interior are covered with a network of railways, not, that is, for many generations will the camels cease to be a necessity of existence in many parts of the state, and your Petitioners would submit that encouragement and not obstruction, should be the policy of the state regarding them.”
Perhaps they understood more than it would appear as the collection of documents Musakhan put into his book have this petition under the heading “An Unpresented Petition – 1904”. They may have known it was a waste of time to present it.
So strict was the implementation of the Immigration Restriction Act that Afghan cameleers were not permitted, even during the severe drought of 1901-1902, to cross the border between South Australia and NSW without going through procedures similar to those required of racially unwelcome visitors to Australia. A reliable person had to act as guarantor for them, paying a bond of 100 pounds for each person. Samuel Drew and Company, merchants of Broken Hill performed this function for several Afghan camel drivers at that time. Lack of experienced men to distribute urgently needed provisions to outlying stations, meant that they had to call on Afghans from across the border. The Afghans admitted to NSW in April 1902, although still under the 100 pounds bond, were permitted to remain until the drought had eased. However handprints were now included on file for proof of identity, presumably to ensure that the same men who entered from South Australia eventually returned.
Not only was interstate trade impeded, but international business links as well. There were several requests by Muslims with business interests in both India and Australia for a general pass, to allow unhindered travel. Matters were not clear in the first few months and the case of an Afghan named Meerhez appears to have stimulated the development of policy. The Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, in response to a request for a general pass for Meerhez, with his need for constant travel on business between Australia and India, decided that the idea of a general pass was of doubtful legality, that a Certificate of Exemption from the Dictation Test, with its tight time specifications, was not what was required either. The letter requesting the general pass had explained that he had lived in Australia for some years and spoke English fluently. The Prime Minister decided that, given the special circumstances of the case, a promise was to be given to Meerhez that he would be allowed to re-enter the Commonwealth on returning from India without being subjected to the education test. Offshore business visitors found it hard to gain entry, even when quoting international treaties in support of their claims, and the importation of neither camels nor their drivers was permitted.
Then the 1903 Naturalization Act provided that applicants for naturalization could not be natives of Asia, Africa or the Pacific Islands (except for New Zealand). Men who had worked in Australia for over a decade were not acceptable as citizens. Jan Mahomet, a 35 year old Afghan storekeeper and camel-driver, who had worked in South Australia for nearly four years, Coolgardie for over a year and then in Murchison, near Geraldton WA, for eleven years, received his rejection of naturalisation from the Department of External Affairs in Melbourne in October 1906 about three weeks after submitting his papers. The only sign in the archives of his response is a curt telegram to the Department on 25 October asking for the return of all his papers. When Mahomet Solomon’s application for naturalisation, after seven year’s residence, was rejected he went to his local Member of Parliament. He informed him that he had substantial interests in Port Pirie, where he was a storekeeper and enclosed a newspaper cutting which showed that 28 Turks had been naturalised in 1905. He noted in his letter that he was by birth a Turk. His MP approached the Department on his behalf, which explained that his claim that he had been born at Mount Lebanon in Asia disqualified him from citizenship, but if as now appeared that he was indeed a Turk, the Minister would be glad to be notified of the date of the arrival of his parents in Syria.
The Muslim community was learning that more than individual approaches to the authorities were required on issues of non-European residence in Australia. As well as using the local member of parliament, like Mahomet Solomon, petitions were also used. They were not just Muslim community petitions either. The lobby for the right of Sayyid Mahomet Shah Banuri to a certificate of domicile, used a petition to the Secretary of the Department for External Affairs signed by a variety of local Indian and Syrian Muslims and Christian merchants, .most of whom appear to have lived in Redfern NSW, to press their case. Mahomet Shah Banuri was apparently a well educated religious leader who spoke Arabic, Persian, Pashtu, Hindustani and Sindhi. As he intended to visit India and the Hejaz to further his religious education, it was feared Banuri would have difficulties returning to his flock. He was eventually granted a 12 month Certificate of Exemption (from the dictation test) in November 1903. This twelve month visit, with, after representations from their legal firm, the option of renewal for a further year, meant that he would be unable to remain in the country. In April 1905 he made a last ditch attempt from WA where he was then located, to get a general permit to allow him to come and go as he wished. This was curtly refused by External Affairs in Melbourne, within two weeks of his making the request. Banuri had only been in Australia since 1901 so he was not regarded in the same way as those with longer periods of residence. Moaz Khan, an Afghan camel driver, who had resided in Australia since 1899 or 1900, dates on documents differed, was permitted to leave and re-enter the Commonwealth on several occasions between 1913 and 1931, each time being granted a Certificate of Exemption from the Dictation Test without the limited time specified for those who were regarded as visitors. That he had arrived before the Immigration Restriction Act came into force in 1902 and that he had been here five years and was of good character, apparently allowed right of re-entry.
The method of the petition was again used in a request to the Minister of External Affairs to allow Syed Ahmad, “our High Priest” (so described) to visit Australia for twelve months. It was signed by seven Muslims from Hergott Springs in August 1909. Permission was granted 30 October that year, but the letter to Gulam Mahomet conveying the news never reached him. In January 1910 it was discovered he had gone to Western Australia and the necessary documents had to be forwarded again. That the man was illiterate, that he was really coming to get his son, unemployed and residing at the Adelaide Mosque, who was refusing to rejoin the family and that he did not enjoy the confidence, according to Fatteh Baruck of 248 Hindley Street Adelaide, of “several foreign residents of the City”, caused some official concern but not the withdrawal of his Certificate of Exemption.
Despite these accommodations of individuals and the admission of religious teachers for limited periods, the Immigration Restriction Act had the desired effect. Between 1901 and 1921 the number of Afghans fell from 393 to 147. By the 1930s “Many of the owners and breeders of camels are still Afghans, but since the war the industry has begun to pass into the hands of Australians who handled camels in Egypt and Palestine.” The experience of Moaz Khan from the Punjab illustrates the decline in the Muslim camel industry. Arriving as a camel driver at the start of the century, he was a camel proprietor working in Bourke, Wilcannia and Broken Hill before 1913, then after his visit to his wife and family in India 1918-1921, he returned to employment as a labourer, doing station work. He eventually retired, via a period at the Adelaide Mosque, to India and his wife in 1947.
The Muslim Community before the Great War
The picture that emerges of the Muslim community in Australia at this time is one of impermanence. In the inland areas there do not appear to have been settled imams although there were some signs of semi-permanent communities around mosques. Many itinerant religious leaders appear in the records, here for limited periods due to the Immigration Restriction Act and perhaps to the nature of the Muslim community at that time. The men were constantly on the move, which interfered in their efforts to obtain overseas scholars. Many of those who were credited with leadership appear to have been illiterate, signing documents with a mark, although there were those with Islamic knowledge too. There were, in Melbourne and Sydney, prayer places and sometimes permanent imams devoting their time to serving the religious needs of the community. There were permanent mosques where there was a large enough number of Muslims to support them.
As early as 1885 in Melbourne there appears to have been a sufficiently well organised community to hold Eid Prayers. The Argus report of the 1886 Eid festival mentions that this was the second occasion on which the feast had been observed in Melbourne. That prayer was led by a local notable, Moonshee Abdul Hamid “one of the most pious and influential” of the local Muslims. About 80 Muslims, all men, attended the prayer in the grounds of the Observatory, near Government House, off St Kilda Road Melbourne. Describing the assembled Muslims as “Hindoos”, the Age reported that some ingenious bystander suggested that they had come to celebrate American Independence day, for that fell apparently upon the same day as Eid al-Fitr in 1886. The Bulletin, the magazine which in its own words stood for “Australia for the Australians,-The cheap Chinaman, the cheap nigger, and the cheap European pauper to be absolutely excluded” offered support and sympathy to the Muslims. It charged that the community’s application to hold the prayer in a park had been refused by some official so that “the observances had to be performed on a piece of waste land on the St Kilda Road, to the great entertainment of a crowd of deranged larrikins who watched the proceedings.” Using the article to attack the Salvation Army and comparing it in an unflattering way to the Muslims, the Bulletin concluded “We are glad to observe… that the Faithful of Melbourne are about to import a Mollah from India with a view to spreading their doctrines and if we can help the holy man in the work of introducing some kind of real religion for the first time into Australia, our services are entirely at his disposal.” As later events illustrated, this was not to be the case, for The Bulletin carried many an assault upon the Afghans, Syrians and all those it considered ‘cheap labor’.
An indication of the state of the Muslim community in South Australia came from the August 1909 request from Hergott Springs for a Certificate of Exemption from the Dictation Test for Syed Ahmad. It stimulated the Secretary of External Affairs to investigate the number of “Mohammedan priests” in South Australia of the “same faith” as the petitioners. The SA Collector of Customs ascertained that there was only one resident “priest” in the state, one Swasa Mahomet serving Port Augusta and district. Itinerants and visitors included Syed Omar, who since his arrival a year ago from North Queensland had been engaged in Hergott Springs, Port Augusta and Adelaide. He was intending to depart from the Adelaide Mosque to Broken Hill in the near future. There was also one Afghan “priest” Syed Iran Shah Sahib, with his son, at Broken Hill, visiting Australia for a year from February 1909 on an Indian passport. Constable Simpson had reported to the Collector of Customs that there were Afghan camps in Farina, Hergott Springs and Port Augusta West but that “it is impossible to ascertain how many Afghan priests there are in those camps as they are always moving about.” It was specified by Shair Mahomet of the Adelaide Mosque that if Syed Ahmad was admitted to the country he would be engaged in “conducting services in Western Australia, Adelaide, Hergott Springs, Oodnadatta, Broken Hill and Bourke.” There were in 1910, three mosques in South Australia, at Adelaide, Port Augusta and Hergott Springs.
The Adelaide Mosque got itself into difficulties over the dishonesty of some members of the congregation who came to the colony to make a few pounds quickly. Ahmed Skaka recalls being told that, because of their behaviour, at one stage the Muslims actually lost control of the mosque property. At the time of Imam Abdul Wahid many young Afghan men wanted to go into business. The imam, well respected in the city, told various business people that he would act as guarantor for the Muslims who obtained trade goods (presumably for hawking around the countryside). Some of them did well and returned to Afghanistan. Some took the goods and departed, never to be seen again. The imam was left with their debts. This forced the sale of the mosque to non-Muslim Australians until the debt was repaid. Abdul Wahid was able to collect enough money from all the Afghans to buy the mosque back.
In Melbourne the Austral-India Society of 257 Brunswick Street Fitzroy appears to have represented the interests of the Muslims of Victoria to the government. Serving all Indians, (including Afghans), it appears to have been dominated by Muslims. The President in 1912 was Mr Mukand Lal, Vice-President Syed Jeelaine Shah and Treasurer Mr Marm Deen. There were two Secretaries, Mr A.H. Pritchard and Mr Maboob Allum. Its headquarters were not stable as in 1913 its address was given as 78 Lonsdale Street Melbourne, which was also the business address of the prominent Syrian Muslim merchant Mr Jaboor. In this Austral-India Society we appear to have the germ of the later cross-ethnic Islamic Council of Victoria, which now represents Muslims in that state.
When the Department of External Affairs sent out a memo in June 1910 to all Collectors of Customs around Australia to ascertain the number of “Mohammedan priests” there were in the country, A.H. Pritchard of 200 Johnston St. Fitzroy received the same request. He was apparently highly regarded as a link to the Muslim community by the government.
The responses indicate that there were already Muslims in nearly every corner of the nation. It was the Muslims living there who informed the Collector of Customs that Tasmania did not have a “priest” and was still without a mosque. The reply from Brisbane noted that there was one permanent mosque and one “priest” at Mount Gravatt, as well as another “priest” in Brisbane who was about to move to Cloncurry. That town was the site of a substantial Muslim community serving the mines with camel transport. Queensland explained that no official records were kept on such priest or mosques because these religious leaders “are not recognised by the Registrar General’s Department.”
The Collector of Customs NSW ignored the substantial Muslim community then in Broken Hill, replying that there was no mosque in the State. There were in fact two mosques at Broken Hill and one permanent imam but these were considered as part of South Australia as they were in the hinterland of Adelaide. There was a visiting or “Missionary” religious leader, in the Lismore district, where there was a small Muslim community. He reported there was only one resident “Mohammedan priest” in the state, Mohamed Shah who had been appointed to the position three months previously, suggesting the existence of an Islamic Society in Sydney. Although there was no mosque in the city, a room in a store at 79 Alderson Street Redfern was set apart for prayer. That the Muslim community of Sydney was located mainly in Redfern and was led by merchants is indicated by the petition of Indians, Syrians and Australians requesting the right of return to Australia for Sayid Mahomet Shah Banuri in 1904. They had also apparently established sound relationships with the non-Muslims for 14 Christian and (one) Jewish businessmen from the City and Redfern signed the petition, along with the Muslim businessmen, who appear to have been located mainly in Elizabeth Street Redfern.
A.H.Pritchard reported that there was no resident “Mohammedan priest” in Melbourne or in Victoria “who devotes all his time in giving religious instruction, teaching of the Koran and such like and who is supported by the Islams of Victoria.” However there were three “Haffieses or Mullahs” Noor Allum, Jallal Deen and Mahboob Allum who paid their share of the rent for 124 to 126 Young Street Fitzroy. They were licensed hawkers. There were also “two ‘Shahs’, descendants of the priest caste in this State” and they were also hawkers. Although there was no mosque in Victoria a room for prayer and religious instruction was set apart at 126 Young Street. A detached room especially built “for praying and holding religious ceremonies” was built at the house in McCormick Place off Little Lonsdale Street in the City of Melbourne. Pritchard also knew of permanent mosques in Bourke and Coolgardie built and kept by the Afghans.
Western Australia appears to have been the centre of the Islamic community in that period. The Acting Collector of Customs reported that apart from the principal mosque in Perth there were others at Coolgardie, Mount Malcolm, Leonora, Bummers Creek, Mount Sir Samuel and Mount Magnet. In 1898 there had only been Muslim communities in Perth Fremantle and Coolgardie. There were two resident “Mahomedan Priests” in Perth and about “25 Sayeds (Priests) who are called descendants of the Prophet.” These men led the prayers in other districts. “They are all working men and conduct these services without any remuneration.”
The Committee of the Perth Mosque, noted in the Annual Report of 1905-1906, “We cannot help appreciating the great blessings of protection, religious toleration and peace which we enjoy, as we do here, under the benign flag of the British nation.” This intelligent acknowledgment was followed by a request to the ruling authorities for help: “We also trust that the government of the state will be pleased to extend a helping hand to us by granting a piece of ground for the use of the Mosque, treating us in the same manner as other Denominations, who have received grants of ground for the use of their respective churches and synagogues.” There is no evidence that the plea met with success.
Even then the Muslim community was concerned at the lack of knowledge of Islam in the general population. It was agreed that if there was any surplus left in the collection after the mosque was built, they would set up a Public Library and Reading Room….”…in order to enlighten all those gentlemen who often want to know whether we belong to the Roman Catholic or Protestant Church, or whether we worship the sun, moon, the stars, fire or other material objects.”
Of particular interest is the evidence of a deep ethnic dispute within the Muslim community. The agreement, signed on the 13 August 1906, dealing with control and management of the mosque, is described as one between “the delegates and representatives of the several Mohammedan communities resident in Western Australia.” There is a clear distinction drawn between the group which saw itself as the controlling entity and others. It states that it is an agreement between “Afghans of the one part, and Indians (including Punjabies, Bengalies, Sindhies and other races of India) of the second part and Syeds of the third part, and Baloochies (including Brohies and Mekranies) of the fourth part, and Arabs and other various Mohammedan races of the fifth part…” All ethnic groups were henceforth to have equal access to the mosque and its facilities and equal rights rights in its administration and control.
How effective this agreement was in settling matters is uncertain as in a Supplement within the Annual Report a visit by “His Holiness Agha Syed Mohammed Padshah from Port Hedland” in November 1906 is recorded. He was authorised by the Muslims of that area to conciliate, should there be a need, between the warring groups in Perth. A resolution was passed that in future the Afghans and Indians, through their representatives, would manage the affairs of the Perth mosque in a more friendly spirit. “Mr Anwar Kakad, a leading Afghan gentleman, was appointed to represent the Afghan community and Mr Hoffiz Mohammad Hayat, merchant, to represent the Indians…” The report was signed by H. Musakhan, secretary.
Differences within the Afghan community were also regarded as significant enough to record them in the List of Contributors August1 1905 to Nov 30 1906. Careful note is made whether the contributor was “Pishori Afghan” or “Durranie Afghan”. Bengalis, Punjabis, a Cingalie, a Malay and even a couple of Sikhs are recorded as contributors.
This question of ethnicity haunted the Perth Mosque for many years. In her 1980 paper, Schinasi noted that in the third set of rules for the mosque dated from 1919 “..article 7b stated that: “So long as any present member of the mosque of Afghan nationality…shall be residing in Western Australia one of such Trustees shall be elected by the Afghans voting separately for the election of such Trustee. The other Trustee shall be elected by the members of the mosque who are not of Afghan nationality.”
Even after the Second World War the issue had not died. “Article 22, the last of the two post-1947 amendments, stated that: “Whenever the word Afghan is used in these rules it shall mean a person irrespective of his place of birth whose parents, both father and mother, are Afghan of full blood and whose parents resided in Afghanistan or in the North west Frontier Province of Pakistan.” It excluded the Australian-born generations who could claim only an Afghan father or grandfather from becoming head of the mosque.” Islam by lineage was an invention of terrible implication for the unity of the Muslim ummah in Australia.
Such ethnic division was apparently endorsed why what ‘Islamic scholars’ there were available. The Muslims understood that here in isolated Australia, far from Islamic civilisation, reliable and well informed Islamic scholars were needed to guide the community. One such was Sayyed Jalal Shah. Descended on both sides of his family from the Prophet Muhammad, he came here when he was 30. He is first encountered in Cloncurry where he gave a sermon and conducted prayers at the festival held at the end of Ramadan in August 1914. Although born in Karachi, he appears to have had ties to Afghanistan. Schinasi reports “In one of his letters ( to the Afghan journal “Seraj ul-akhbar), he reproved his compatriots from Sind and Baluchistan for their lack of religious zeal and praised “the Afghan civilization” which he said, was well represented in Australia by the mosques at Brisbane, Hergott Springs, Broken Hill, Adelaide and Perth. In this letter and in others he considered the Afghans from Afghanistan as his only responsible communicants…” “His Holiness” Agha Syed Mohammed Padshah from Port Hedland, while seeking peace between the Perth Muslims, also apparently accepted the ethnic division as a given.
The high wall around the Perth Mosque, similar to that of the Adelaide Mosque, and a comment in a report on the progress in the building of the mosque from November 1906, suggest that the community had to cope with considerable hostility. “The Mosque as now built has all necessary conveniences attached to it for ablution, etc., to satisfy the present requirements, and the cottage has enough accommodation for those of our brethren who stay in Perth temporarily and who are unable to find accommodation in public hostels in the city on account of the prejudice at present prevailing amongst the inhabitants of this country against colour and Asiatic races.”
Muslim Family Life
As in all frontier societies, women were very scarce in outback Australia. At Cloncurry in 1886 there were ten males to every female, so marriage was practically impossible. The returns on mosques in 1898 in Western Australia suggest celibacy or at least absence of marriage, in that Muslim community. Many Muslims had wives and families back in India or Afghanistan and some returned infrequently to visit them. Moaz Khan returned to India 1914 to 1916, then from 1918 to 1921, then again from 1925 to 1931, finally retiring to join his wife in India in 1947. The mullahs and “Shahs” mentioned by Mr Pritchard, renting buildings in Fitzroy and the city who were all registered hawkers and spent much of their time travelling, suggests a life style similar to that of the camel-drivers of the frontier society.
Where it was possible these Muslims did have wives with them. Winifred Stegar had married an Indian Muslim, Ali, in China. Winifred’s account describes her less than perfect relationship with the wife of Sherali, her Australian resident brother-in-law. She did not comment on the woman’s ethnicity but from the text it is assumed that she is also Indian. Sherali offered Ali his first job in Australia. Located somewhere in rural Queensland 50 miles from the coast, he owned a large general store, ran a motor car and employed a governess for his children. The settled Muslim merchants encountered in the documents, signers of petitions and hosts for visiting imams, who are obviously respected by the authorities, might have enjoyed a life-style similar to that of Sherali and different from that of the itinerant hawkers and outback Afghans. Mr Jaboor of Melbourne with his large store, 76 to 78 Lonsdale Street and the merchants of Elizabeth Street Redfern were apparently prosperous and able to live a settled family life.
Despite the odds, many of the Afghans in the outback did eventually marry. Some of those who had left wives back in India or Afghanistan also took wives here. Stevens mentions the history of Nameth Khan, a camel-driver with a wife and two daughters back in Peshawar, who took an Aboriginal wife as well, marrying her in the Registry Office in Alice Springs. His Aboriginal wife died of the Spanish influenza in 1919 and he too died here, never seeing his family in India again. His Australian daughter however kept in contact with them, visiting the Punjab in the 1960s. Many of the women the Afghans married were marginalised Aborigines whose tribal social system was disintegrating under the impact of white settlement. Some were marginalised European women, widows with several children, deserted wives and occasionally, gold-diggers entranced by the wealth of established camel owners. Bejah Dervish married a deserted wife with eight children, and it was their son who went on the 1939 crossing of the Simpson Desert. Gool Mahomet of Coolgardie and then Farina, married a French prostitute, Adrienne Desiree Lesire from a Kalgoorlie brothel in 1907. They married in the Coolgardie Mosque and she lived in the Ghantown with him, much to the disdain of her fellow prostitutes.
There was no effort made to bring wives from Afghanistan or India to Australia as life here was too different, although there are several reports of men bringing their sons to join them. The wealthy camel owner Faiz Mahomet brought his son from Karachi in the late 1890s but not his wife. Moosha Balooch also brought out his ten year old son Omedally Balooch to join him and his second wife at Marree, but left his first wife in Afghanistan.
As these families produced offspring, the issue of brideprice became a source of friction. Although the mahar, or payment of an agreed amount by the groom to his bride, a requirement of Islam, was obeyed, the pagan custom of the groom paying the father of the bride a dowry or brideprice was also observed. At a time when a good weekly wage was two pounds, brideprices of one hundred and fifty and two hundred pounds have been documented. Young men usually lacked the necessary resources, so many old men were married to very young Ghantown brides. As the second generation of Australian born and acculturated Afghans grew up, such a custom became onerous and eventually, like much of the culture, both Islamic and tribal, died out.