For Koreatown Mosque Congregants, Parking Is a Challenge

February 8, 2010

Author: Raja Abdulrahim

Source: Los Angeles Times,0,2866481.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Ffeatures%2Freligion+%28L.A.+Times+-+Religious+News%29&utm_content=Twitter

Omar Haroon guards the secret of his Friday prayers parking spot even from close friends. People ask, but he refuses to spill.

For much of his life, the 33-year-old hedge fund manager has attended prayers at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles' Koreatown district. And for much of that time, congregants have coped with a parking shortage by arriving early, by using illegal spots or by generously -- and privately -- tipping parking attendants at nearby businesses. 

For years, Haroon and his father have parked at a nearby building that isn't supposed to allow it and turns other congregants away. They pay the attendants the required parking rate and several dollars extra, in essence doubling the amount. 

"The guys have told us not to tell anyone, not to tell our friends or anything," Haroon said. "So we just stay totally quiet. We don't want anything to jeopardize our parking."

Those attending churches and synagogues have holy days that fall on Saturdays and Sundays, when there are often relaxed parking restrictions, more available spaces and no street cleaning. But for Muslims, at least in Western countries, their Friday holy day means a balancing act between work, school and religious obligations.