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Is criticizing public figures considered backbiting in Islam ?

When we talk about backbiting, does that include talking about celebrities and public figures? Like we all talk about them and criticize them quite often, singers, actors, Musharraf or even George Bush. And these people are obviously not present, what does Islam say about it, is this also un-islamic?


My understanding is that backbiting is that act of criticizing somebody on his/her back which is without any justifiable cause. Such criticism is distinguishable from the one that is done for a definite purpose on the basis of a person’s true feeling whether he/she is doing it to serve a purpose or for the sake of it. Even a genuine criticism should limit itself to the extent the purpose entails. This principle is true in the case of everyone, whether leaders, celebrities, or ordinary people. However, since in the case of leaders, there is a bigger possibility that the criticism against them is caused by some genuine reason because they affect a large number of people through what they do, it is more likely that they may get legitimately criticized more often than the ordinary people.