National Faithkeepers Screening Day on May 23:
Host a Screening

American Open University

Year Founded: 1995

Website: www.AOU.edu

2011 Revenue: $260,867

Address: 4212 King Street Alexandria, VA 22302

American Open University says it “is the first university established in the western hemisphere to offer Islamic Studies in Arabic and English languages through distance learning techniques.” It is affiliated with California University. Over 8,000 students from around the world have enrolled since it opened. [2]

Salah Al-Sawy, the Secretary-General of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, is one of the founders of the University and served as its vice president from 1995 to 2004.[3]

AOU’s chairman of the founding council, Jaafar Sheikh Idris, preaches that democracy is “the antithesis of Islam” and that Sharia must be “the supreme law within the limits of which people have the right to legislate.”[4] He says that Islam “guides Muslims through every detail of running the state and their lives” and that Muslims cannot pledge loyalty to the U.S. Constitution.[5]

Its website boasts of endorsements of leading Islamist scholars:[6]

  • The “Honorable” Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who has called himself the “mufti of martyrdom operations.”
  • The “Honorable” 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 “specially designated terrorist” because of his ties to Al-Qaeda and he is also linked to Hamas.[7] A lawsuit in federal court alleges that he was involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.[8] He preaches in favor of creating an “Islamic State”[9] and permitting child brides.[10]
  • “His Excellency” Dr. Ibrahim Bin Hamad Qoaid, the General Secretary of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, based in Saudi Arabia.
  • The “Honorable” Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Bazi, the former Saudi Grand Mufti and head of the Great Scholars of Saudi Arabia.
  • The “”Honorable” 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 “NewIkhwan.” 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.[11]

Mohamed posted a series of videos critical of the Muslim Brotherhood using the “NewIkhwan” YouTube channel and another channel named “AOUNews.”

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.[12] He also accuses the Brotherhood of practicing a policy of “containment” in order to control the Muslim-American community.[13]

He states that AOU “is not an Ikhwan organization” 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 the Islamic American University to compete with AOU. The Brotherhood is spreading misinformation about AOU and tried to penetrate the institution, he claims.[14]

Mohamed also criticizes the Brotherhood for forming “governments within governments” and offers Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center as an example. He says the mosque is engaged in “really frightening” conduct by trying “to have their own system inside the American system. They disregard the legal system and the court system of Virginia.”[15]


[1] “Contact Us,” American Open University website, http://www.aou.edu/center.php?id=6&lang=eng

[2] “About Us,” American Open University website, http://www.aou.edu/page.php?id=2&lang=eng

[3] “Dr. Salah AsSawy,” Mishkah Islamic University of North America website, http://www.mishkahuniversity.com/index.php/dr-salah-assawy/

[4] Idris, Dr. Ja’far Sheikh. “Shoora and Democracy: A Conceptual Analysis,” Islaam.com, http://web.archive.org/web/20100330015328/http://www.islaam.com/Article.aspx?id=545

[5] Idris, Dr. Jafaar Sheikh. “Separation of Church and State,” Jaafar Idris website, http://web.archive.org/web/20120118121009/http://www.jaafaridris.com/English/Articles/separ.htm.

[6] “About Us.”

[7] “Analysis: Sheikh Abd Al-Majid Al-Zindani; Ties to Al Qaeda As Well as the Muslim Brotherhood,” Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, April 11, 2008. http://globalmbreport.com/?p=775

[8] McGregor, Andrew. “Yemeni Sheikh Al-Zindani’s New Role as a Healer,” Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Focus Volume 4, Issue 8, April 6, 2007. http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5btt_news%5d=4057

[9] “Cleric Calls for Islamic State as Yemeni Protesters Take to Streets,” Irish Times, March 3, 2011. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0302/1224291140681.html

[10] “Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood Leader Fights Proposed Law Challenging Child Brides,” Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, April 26, 2010. http://globalmbreport.com/?p=2908

[11]Ikhwan Muslimoon Advice 13,” YouTube channel “NewIkhwan,” May 4, 2008. http://youtu.be/o709oF5F8a4

[12]Ikhwan Muslimoon Advice 11,” YouTube channel “NewIkhwan,” May 4, 2008. http://youtu.be/vBnnD1DPz78

[13]Ikhwan Muslimoon Advice 12,” YouTube Channel “NewIkhwan,” May 4, 2008. http://youtu.be/l4XDZNui50U

[14] “American Open University Under Ikhwan Attacks,” YouTube channel “NewIkhwan,” May 5, 2008. http://youtu.be/jO48UyljLeU

[15]Ikhwan Muslimoon Advice 13.”