Ex-jihadists seem to be a bit like London buses - there are none for ages and then suddenly three turn up all at once.
The trio in question are of course Ed Hussain, Maajid Nawaz and Hassan Butt - the professional "Voice of the Muslims" who invariably appear on any form of media to form a "Muslim response" when there is any sort of "Muslim issue" worth reporting.
Between them they have been busy boys. The new theory they peddle is simple: Islam is not an ideology but rather a religion (just like any other) - a mere collection of sacred rituals, mystic utterances and curious customs.
When asked to justify their views they all speak of Islamist plots, cells and dark underworlds where "Islamism" reigns supreme. When this view is disputed they are able to play their "joker card", which is their almost divine claim of special inside knowledge of the workings of the Islamist's mind.
As for what Islamism means and who Islamists are, no one has ever actually pinned them down and demanded a clear definition though it seems that they feel that anyone who uses Islam for guidance in everyday life – such as who to vote for, who to marry and how to raise your children - may well classify as an "Islamist". Gosh, well that wouldn't be many of us then would it?
They each have their own particular styles. Hussain plays on all the secret fears and pet-hates of the chattering classes - whether it be British Muslims marrying "back home" or streets that could have "been somewhere in India"; Nawaz is much the same plus a self-conscious smattering of Arabic terms for added authenticity - a carry over from his HT days no doubt; whereas Butt is pure bombast - his interviews are invariably a collection of pompous phrases meandering over a desolate landscape in search of an idea.
As for the intellectual rigour of the ideas this trio espouse - a musical analogy would be framed not in terms of The Three Tenors but rather Girls Aloud. Hussain's great literary work, "The Islamist", has been effectively picked to pieces and any theories like his tie-in of Hizb-ul Tahrir as being the guiding light of Saddam Hussain's regime as well as being responsible for radicalising people like Asif Hanif have been shot to shreds (Saddam very publicly tortured and executed Hizb members in Iraq and Hanif was closely linked to a Sufi group).
That of course didn't stop the Londonistani Loony Melanie Philips from temporarily discarding her role as the town nutter - shambolically wandering the High Street yelling "It's doom I tells ya...doom" - to describe Hussain as a "brave Muslim" who displayed "courage and guts". Hussain seems to feel that in place of proof he can provide allegations of death threats against himself as the only evidence needed to vilify the majority of Muslims in the UK.
Whilst Nawaz and Butt have been relatively quiescent recently, Ed Hussain has strained sinew and furrowed brow in the pursuit of mediocre social comment. His most recent offering was published this week in the Daily Telegraph. It was a stock piece from Hussain with all the usual ingredients - Islamist scaremongering, deriding Muslim "victim-hood" (Holocuast Memorial Day notwithstanding, of course), and a host of unsubstantiated allegations and outrageous accusations (my favourite being the denunciation of the whole Muslim community as racist because we tend to marry within our own cultures). In true Hussain style there are more holes in his argument than in a sponge and his article has been effectively dissected elsewhere, but sufficed to say that despite the inaccuracies the piece was instantly seized upon by anyone with a beef against Islam to buttress their own hostile positions.
When this piece is coupled together with other notable Hussain appearances - the one that stands out strongest in my mind is his appearance in early December on BBC One's political affairs programme "This Week’ where he encouraged primary school teachers to refuse to teach children wearing hijab as there wasn't a "scriptural basis" for it - one can see a definite pattern emerging: Ed Hussain appearing again and again, only too willing to vilify, deride and misrepresent Muslims and Islam.
Whether it is Ed Hussain, Maajid Nawaz or Hassan Butt the interesting similarity between them is that despite their protestations of a "road to Damascus" moment, all of them retain their strong streak of shameless self-promotion - a characteristic well-honed in their previous incarnations.
When viewed objectively their continual flip-flop of direction is not due to epiphany after epiphany but rather an operating system that is not fully up to speed - their "jihadist period" was Windows 95, their current depiction of the self-hating Muslim is Windows XP; goodness knows what Windows Vista will bring.
All three were active from a young age in their respective groups - recruiting and promoting Hizb-ul Tahrir and Al Muhajiroon's myopic agendas. Since leaving these groups they have thrown themselves head-first at the media with their tell-all stories and mud slinging - with a short sojourn in an Egyptian jail in Maajid Nawaz's case. What seems to be lacking in their life story up until now is a period of pause and reflection that would allow them to gain the skill most needed for representing the Muslim community - some decent tarbiyah.
In short, Ed, Maajid, Hassan - shut up, sit down and start listening and learning from some of those elders that you are so happy to group along with the trouble makers in Islam. Then you will be able to deal with your complete ineptitude in understanding Islam's true meaning - seeking submission to Allah's will in ALL aspects of your life.