Source: Tri-Valley Herald
On July 2, 2006 Tri-Valley Herald reported, "Each Sunday evening, Ayyaz Yousaf gets together with roughly 30 to 40 people in Fremont for a spiritual gathering. Known as a zikr, this weekly session or ritual meditation begins with an opening recitation from the Quran, reading poems and prayers, and group chants in praise of the Prophet Muhammad, followed by a free dinner open to the public. The gatherings are held by the Islamic Educational and Cultural Research Center, a group that professes Sufism, the classical tradition of Islamic mysticism focusing on love and spiritual healing. Although Sufism has been criticized from within and outside of Islam regarding the lifestyle, beliefs and practices, it also has attracted non-Muslim followers because of its emphasis on love and openness to different spiritual paths, according to leaders from the Islamic Educational and Cultural Research Center. [']We believe that Sufism can bring spiritual healing to people of all races and religions,['] said Shagufta Ahmad, a member of the Islamic Educational and Cultural Research Center. The group setting offers people from all backgrounds a unique experience to experience faith, peace and unity. On Saturday, the Islamic Educational and Cultural Research Center will hold its fourth annual conference... Called Celebrating The Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him): The Eternal Light of Truth & Guidance, the conference will focus on the issue of truth, using Muhammad as a model, with talks held in Urdu and English. Sufism has put a strong emphasis on opening the doors to everyone, said Sharazz Khan, a director of the program. [']Anyone can come in and see how we experience spiritual healing. There are so many chronic diseases, addictions and illnesses in our world that I think many people are looking to religion for treatment.[']"