This article discusses the way Indonesia masses were mobilized and propelled by Islam into various violent actions directed by political actors in numerus case studies during the Dutch colonial, Japanese and Indonesian independence era. A comparative analysis allows insights into how Islam as a factor of political activism was exploited by political elites historically, but also how the political narratives accompanying this violence adapted to the constraints of the era. The analysis in the paper shows that during the Dutch era a clear anti-colonial rhetoric struggle against oppression was a relevant driver of mobilization, while this struggle against oppression became increasingly dubious as motivation during the Japanese era. This article raises serious questions of legitimacy on the politics behind Muslim violence during the era of Indonesian independence. An analysis of the elites behind these violent masses shows how exactly Islam as religion of the majority population was used for political goals of the elites with various degrees of success.