Jassem Al-Kharafi was born in Kuwait City in 1940, the son of Mohammed Abdul Mohsen Al-Kharafi, the founder of M. A. Kharafi & Sons.
Al-Kharafi was elected Speaker of the National Assembly in 1999. He was reelected as Speaker in all elections after until deciding that he would not stand for reelection in the 2012 National Assembly elections. This was due to Al-Kharafi wanting to focus on the family Business after the death of his brother Nasser Al-Kharafi. Ahmed Al-Sadoun succeeded him as Speaker of the National Assembly.
On November 3, 2007, Al-Kharafi told the pan-Arab Arabiya television in an interview that he had "question marks" about Prime Minister Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah's decisions. A transcript of the interview was published in Alrai daily, which included Al-Kharafi's comment that too many reshuffles necessitate "a review and an evaluation of what measures should be taken." Al-Kharafi said the reshuffle should not have been put off for the whole summer and that it indicated a "policy of patching" up problems, rather than solving them.
The meeting occurred on June 30, 2008, to discuss the latest US State Department report that accorded Kuwait a tier three status on trafficking in people for its treatment of domestic helpers and foreign workers. Later, the head of the committee, Waleed Al-Tabtabai, said the meeting was held on the basis of a request by the embassy and that the committee has not "overstepped the authorities of the speaker or the foreign ministry," adding that the committee had received similar requests in the past.
Al-Kharafi's family is wealthy. His brother Nasser was listed by Forbes as one of the richest people in the world. His sister, Faiza, was rector of Kuwait University. The University of Tirana on 7 October 2011 gave him an Honoris Causa title.