The family are descendants of Sultan Muhammad Khan (1795-1861), nicknamed "Telai" which means "possessor of gold" or "golden", a nickname he was given because of his love of fine clothing. His younger brother was Dost Mohammad Khan (Emir of Afghanistan). He had a son named Yahya and Yahya's son, Sardar Mohammad Yusuf Khan, founded the Yahya-khel clan which was later named the Musahiban. According to Amin Saikal, "by 1905, Yossef and his brother, Asef, became the Amir's Musahiban-e Khas (Attendants par Excellence), from which originated the tribe name Musahiban".
The Musahiban have historically been known for a step-by-step, culturally progressive and tribally sensitive, evolution for the modernization and opening up of Afghanistan in contrast to the often more radically accelerated strategies promoted in the past.