"The station of sabr (patience) is associated with the spiritual maturity that we need for a long journey during which we have to bear the burdens and difficulties of a life of seeming separation. A story told by the tenth-century Sufi master, Sarraj, illustrates this as the most difficult form of patience — the patience of enduring His Absence:

"A man stood before Shibli (God's compassion upon him) and said to him: 'Which act of patience is hardest for one who is patient?'

"Shibli said: 'Patience in God.'

" 'No,' the man said.

"Shibli said: 'Patience for God.'

"The man said: 'No.'

"Shibli said: 'The patience with God.'

" 'No,' he said.

"Shibli grew angry and said: 'Damn you, what then?'

"The man said: 'Patience without God Most High.'

"Shibli let out a scream that nearly tore apart his spirit.”