American Open University says it â€œis the first university established in the western hemisphere to offer Islamic Studies in Arabic and English languages through distance learning techniques.â€ It is affiliated with California University. Over 8,000 students from around the world have enrolled since it opened. 
AOUâ€™s chairman of the founding council, Jaafar Sheikh Idris, preaches that democracy is â€œthe antithesis of Islamâ€ and that Sharia must be â€œthe supreme law within the limits of which people have the right to legislate.â€ He says that Islam â€œguides Muslims through every detail of running the state and their livesâ€ and that Muslims cannot pledge loyalty to the U.S. Constitution.
Its website boasts of endorsements of leading Islamist scholars:
- The â€œHonorableâ€ Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who has called himself the â€œmufti of martyrdom operations.â€
- The â€œHonorableâ€ Sheikh Abdul-Majeed Al-Zindani, a co-founder of Islah, the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Yemen. In 2004, the U.S. government labeled him a â€œspecially designated terroristâ€ because of his ties to Al-Qaeda and he is also linked to Hamas. A lawsuit in federal court alleges that he was involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. He preaches in favor of creating an â€œIslamic Stateâ€ and permitting child brides.
- â€œHis Excellencyâ€ Dr. Ibrahim Bin Hamad Qoaid, the General Secretary of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, based in Saudi Arabia.
- The â€œHonorableâ€ Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Bazi, the former Saudi Grand Mufti and head of the Great Scholars of Saudi Arabia.
- The â€œâ€Honorableâ€ Sheikh Saleh Bin Hermaid, the head of the Saudi Shura Council.
In 2008, AOU Educational Adviser Dr. Mamdouh Mohamed posted videos under a YouTube channel named â€œNewIkhwan.â€ Ikhwan is Arabic for Brotherhood and is how the organization is often referred to. In one video, he mentions meeting Muslim Brotherhood officials at a conference in Saudi Arabia where Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal spoke.
Mohamed posted a series of videos critical of the Muslim Brotherhood using the â€œNewIkhwanâ€ YouTube channel and another channel named â€œAOUNews.â€
He criticizes the Islamist group for deviating from its original purpose by focusing too much on politics instead of teaching, particularly in the U.S. He also accuses the Brotherhood of practicing a policy of â€œcontainmentâ€ in order to control the Muslim-American community.
He states that AOU â€œis not an Ikhwan organizationâ€ and that the Brotherhood was opposed to the school from the beginning because of its independence. He says that the Muslim American Society is a Muslim Brotherhood front and claims that the Brotherhood set up theÂ Islamic American UniversityÂ to compete with AOU. The Brotherhood is spreading misinformation about AOU and tried to penetrate the institution, he claims.
Mohamed also criticizes the Brotherhood for forming â€œgovernments within governmentsâ€ and offers Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center as an example. He says the mosque is engaged in â€œreally frighteningâ€ conduct by trying â€œto have their own system inside the American system. They disregard the legal system and the court system of Virginia.â€
 â€œContact Us,â€ American Open University website, https://www.aou.edu/center.php?id=6&lang=eng
 â€œAbout Us,â€ American Open University website, https://www.aou.edu/page.php?id=2&lang=eng
 â€œDr. Salah AsSawy,â€ Mishkah Islamic University of North America website, https://www.mishkahuniversity.com/index.php/dr-salah-assawy/
 Idris, Dr. Jaâ€™far Sheikh. â€œShoora and Democracy: A Conceptual Analysis,â€ Islaam.com, https://web.archive.org/web/20100330015328/https://www.islaam.com/Article.aspx?id=545
 Idris, Dr. Jafaar Sheikh. â€œSeparation of Church and State,â€ Jaafar Idris website, https://web.archive.org/web/20120118121009/https://www.jaafaridris.com/English/Articles/separ.htm.
 â€œAbout Us.â€
 â€œAnalysis: Sheikh Abd Al-Majid Al-Zindani; Ties to Al Qaeda As Well as the Muslim Brotherhood,â€ Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, April 11, 2008. https://globalmbreport.com/?p=775
 McGregor, Andrew. â€œYemeni Sheikh Al-Zindaniâ€™s New Role as a Healer,â€ Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Focus Volume 4, Issue 8, April 6, 2007. https://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5btt_news%5d=4057
 â€œCleric Calls for Islamic State as Yemeni Protesters Take to Streets,â€ Irish Times, March 3, 2011. https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0302/1224291140681.html
 â€œYemeni Muslim Brotherhood Leader Fights Proposed Law Challenging Child Brides,â€ Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, April 26, 2010. https://globalmbreport.com/?p=2908
 â€œIkhwan Muslimoon Advice 13,â€ YouTube channel â€œNewIkhwan,â€ May 4, 2008. https://youtu.be/o709oF5F8a4
 â€œIkhwan Muslimoon Advice 11,â€ YouTube channel â€œNewIkhwan,â€ May 4, 2008. https://youtu.be/vBnnD1DPz78
 â€œIkhwan Muslimoon Advice 12,â€ YouTube Channel â€œNewIkhwan,â€ May 4, 2008. https://youtu.be/l4XDZNui50U
 â€œAmerican Open University Under Ikhwan Attacks,â€ YouTube channel â€œNewIkhwan,â€ May 5, 2008. https://youtu.be/jO48UyljLeU
 â€œIkhwan Muslimoon Advice 13.â€