The Illuminati over the recent years have been largely misunderstood and labeled with so many undeserving names which only degrades it's founding principles.
The Illuminati was founded in the 17th century by a professor named Adam Weishaupt, in Bavaria, and he was later joined by five other professors. The Illuminati was original used as a body and driving force to fight against social prejudice, the influence of religion over public life and abuse of state power. Their aim was to put an end to injustice by controlling it and not dominating it using their own words. Unfortunately, on the recommendation and pressure of the catholic church, the then Bavarian ruler, Charles Theodore, through edict outlawed the illuminati, Freemasons and other alike societies, branding them as evil. They were left with no option but to go secret and was later believed to have been disbanded.
Although conspiracy theories and rumors every now and then points to certain activities which are believed to be the handwork of the illuminates, no real prove shows that they truly exist as many believe the group was dissolved after being outlawed by the Bavarian King.
This is what comes to my mind every time I hear the word illuminate.