Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, is Pakistani; her late father, Syed Zainul Abedin, was Indian. Both were intellectuals. When Abedin was two years old, the family moved to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, where, with the backing of Abdullah Omar Nasseef, then the president of King Abdulaziz University, her father founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think tank, and became the first editor of its Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, which states its mission as "shedding lights" on minority Muslim communities around the world in the ope of "securing the legitimate rights of those communities." After Syed died, in 1993, his wife succeeded him as director of the institute and editor of the Journal, positions she still holds.
It turns out the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs is an Abedin family business. Human was an assistant editor there between 1996 and 2008. Her brother, Hassan, 45, is a book review editor at the Journal and was a fellow at the Oxtord Center for Islamic Studies, where Nasseef is chairman of the board of trustees. Huma's sister, Heba, 26, is an assitant editor at the Journal.
The Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA) is based in London, England.