Abdullah Abdurahman was born December 18, 1872 in Cape Town, South Africa and died on February 20, 1940 in Cape Town. He married Helen Potter James and they had two children, of whom the younger, Zainunnissa Abdurahman, like her father, was a prominent figure in Cape Town municipal affairs. After the dissolution of his first marriage, Dr. Abdurahman in 1925 married Margaret May Stansfield. They had a son and two daughters.
Dr. Abdurahman was educated at Marist Brothers School and the South African College School. In 1888 he went to Glasgow, Scotland where he obtained the M.B., Ch.M. medical degree in 1893.
In 1895 he returned to South Africa and acquired an extensive practice in Cape Town, among both Coloured and White people.
In 1904 he was elected to the Cape Town City Council, and was the first Coloured person to become a Councillor. Except for two years (1913-1915) he remained a member up to the time of his death. Dr. Abdurahman was also a member of the Cape Provincial Council from 1914 until his death, and was largely responsible in establishing a system of school medical instruction for the Cape Province.
In 1905 Dr. Abdurahman founded and was president of the South African Native and Coloured People's Organization, later known as the African People's Organization.
In 1909 he was a member of a delegation led by W.P. Schreiner to London. He was also a member of the Indian National Congress and in 1925 went to India to discuss the Indians' position in South Africa with the National Congress and Viceroy.
In 1934 he was appointed a member of the Coloured People's Fact-finding Commission and served an the Cape Coloured Commission of 1937.
At various times he served on several committees of the City Council of Cape Town, including the Public Works Committee, Public Health Committee, Streets and Depot Committee, Finance Committee, Markets and Gardens Committee, Electric Light, Waterworks and Fire Brigade Committee and the Public Works and Depot Committee.
Dr. Abdurahman's wife, Helen "Nellie" Abdurahman was a member of several Cape Town organizations, including the Cape Town and Wynberg General Board of Aid, the Ratepayer's Association, the Women's Municipal Association, the African People's Organization Women's Guild, Western Province Amateur Musical Society, the Women's Enfranchisement League and the National Liberation League Finance Committee.