Naseem Khan was born in 1939 to an Indian father, Abdul Wasi Khan, and a German mother, Gerda Khan (née Kilbinger). Her early childhood was spent in Worcestershire. She studied at Roedean School, East Sussex, and then at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, gaining an MA in English.
She has an interest in the arts, theatre and dance. She was part of a touring Indian dance troupe in the 1970s and has also worked as a dance critic, particularly for Indian dance.
Naseem Khan has worked as a journalist, writer and editor. This has included working as theatre editor at "Time Out" magazine; helping to launch "The Hustler", a newspaper for the black community in Notting Hill, London; working as an editor for publishers Faber and Faber; and working as a regular contributor to the "Guardian", "Independent" and "New Statesman" publications.
Aside from being a writer, Naseem Khan has also worked as a researcher and policy advisor, specialising in the subject of diversity innovation and social change. In 1976, at the request of the Arts Council of Great Britain, she published a report, "The Arts Britain Ignores", which looked into cultural work in ethnic minority communities. She has worked with several international working parties, has contributed to and chaired conferences, and has given training courses in managing cultural diversity. From 1987 to 1990 she was a Senior Associate with the consultancy Comedia, consulting on arts and cultural diversity. From the 1996 until 2003 she was the Head of Cultural Diversity Unit at Arts Council England. From 2006 onwards she has run her own consultancy company, Khan Consulting, again consulting on arts and cultural diversity.
Naseem Khan lived in Hampstead, London, for 25 years. She and her husband had two children: George and Amelia. Upon her split from her husband she went to live in London's East End. Here in 2004 she became the chair of a new local community charity, the Friends of Arnold Circus, and remained the chair of that charity until 2010. She has since worked on other community, arts and social change projects.
In 1993, Naseem Khan was recognised as one of the Women of the Decade in the Arts. She was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1999.