You've been out to eat with that Muslim friend or Muslim couple – you know, the one that leaves an embarrassingly low tip after a meal. What is it that makes some of us feel stingy when it comes to giving tips after getting service? And does anyone else feel the need to overly compensate when they go out as visibly Muslim to a nice place and wonder if the wait staff is rolling their eyes fighting to avoid your table and the inevitably low tip?
I like to think of tipping as a random act of kindness. It's something you can do that will make someone's day. Put yourself in their shoes. You have a grueling job, with unappreciative people, and then on top of that people feel the need to nickel and dime you on your income.
Most people don't realize this, but in professions where gratuity is expected, the server is expected to make a certain amount of money in tips. The minimum wage for a waiter in the US is $2.13. Put this in perspective for a moment. Without tips, that is an annual income of $4,430.40. Annual means a whole year. Even then, they don't get to keep the entirety of their tips, and they have to split the tips with other staff (dishwashers, janitors, cooks, host, etc.).
The rough average living wage for an American household with 2 adults and one child is roughly $18-$20/hour (about $40,000 annually).
And just so there's no confusion, the living wage is the same whether you're at an American restaurant or a Muslim one. Don't be one of those people who tips 20% at Chili's (of all places), but only 10% at a sit down 'zabihah' restaurant. This is a phenomenon I've never understood.
Think about that the next time you pull out your calculator and say, “They refilled my Coke 5 minutes after I needed it, so I'm going to tip them 9% now.”
A lot of people say its “good da‘wah” to tip well, to give a positive impression of Muslims. That's nice, but I think we need to tip well as part of just being decent human beings. If you have the ability to spend $50 to $100 on dinner, then you have the ability to leave a generous tip and help brighten the day of someone who has been serving you. It's not going to kill you to throw a dollar into the tip jar at a Starbuck's, especially if you're a regular.
If you want to take it a step further, show some extra appreciation. Leave a note thanking them or seek out the manager to compliment the service. It's part of our Prophetic tradition, “He who does not thank the people has not thanked Allāh.” Get creative with how you thank people.
An infographic is embedded below that gives you the general etiquettes of tipping in different circumstances.