Family and early life
Husain was born in Hyderabad State, into a Pashtun family of the Afridi tribe, which came to be more closely associated with Qaimganj in Farrukhabad district, and education and academia. After Husain was born, his family migrated from Hyderabad to Qaimganj, where he grew up. He was the second of seven sons: the elder brother of fellow educationist Yousuf Husain. Husain's family would remain active in public life: his grandson Salman Khurshid, a Congress politician, is a former Foreign Minister of India, and his nephew was the noted academic Masud Husain. His brother Mahmud Husain joined the Pakistan Movement and served as their Education Minister, while his nephew Anwar Husain was director of Pakistan Television. His relative Rahimuddin Khan served as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Pakistan Army and as Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Husain's father, Fida Husain Khan, died when he was ten years old; his mother died in 1911 when he was fourteen. Husain's early primary education was completed in Hyderabad, He completed High school from Islamia High School, Etawah, and was then educated at the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, then affiliated with the University of Allahabad, where he was a prominent student leader. He received his doctorate in economics from the University of Berlin in 1926. In 1915, at the age of 18, he married Shah Jahan Begum and had two daughters, Saeeda Khan and Safia Rehman.