Members have fled the Muslim Brotherhood in droves since its ouster from power in Egypt in 2013, frustrated that the organization can’t take care of them, or provide meaning for their lives. Will the Brotherhood learn the lessons of its failures before its next, inevitable, comeback?

In this final episode of Broken Bonds, Amr ElAfifi explores the Brotherhood’s crisis of membership and the implications for policy.

Some have left the Brotherhood because they’ve lost trust in the leadership; others, because they say the organization “is not being brotherhood enough.” The Brotherhood’s fractious trajectory after the Rabaa massacre of 2013 makes clear that there is no single Brotherhood path during a period of unprecedented violent repression.

The Brotherhood’s scattered grassroots have followed divergent paths, some embracing militancy, some withdrawing to the private sphere, and others abandoning faith altogether.

The Brotherhood tried to claim the mantle of Islamist politics, but found itself beset by contradictions and crises. “Islamism,” like the Brotherhood, is not a clearly defined or monolithic movement.

Broken Bonds is a five-part special season of the Order From Ashes podcast. The first episode charted Abdelrahman Ayyash’s personal coming of age in a Brotherhood milieu. In the second episode, Ayyash, Noha Khaled, and Amr ElAfifi mapped how the crises of identity, legitimacy, and membership simultaneously explain the organization’s weaknesses, and staying power. In the third episode, Khaled dissected the identity crisis that has defined the Brotherhood since its establishment. In the fourth episode, Ayyash sketched the leadership vacuum and power struggles that have hobbled the Brotherhood since 2013.

Broken Bonds explores the evolution of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood from the apex of its power, when it won Egypt’s presidency in 2012, to the organization’s disarray and marginalization today.

The podcast season is a companion to a new book, Broken Bonds: The Existential Crisis of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, 2013–22, published in February 2023 by TCF Press. Broken Bonds is part of “Faith and Fracture,” a TCF project supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.


  • Amr ElAfifi, PhD candidate at Syracuse University; research manager, Freedom Initiative
  • Thanassis Cambanis, director, Century International