This reminder is a combination of two of the wisdoms of Ibn ʿAṭāʾillah al-Sakandarī. The first is:
“He who is illumined at the beginning is illumined at the end.”
As we approach Ramadan it is important to do so in the correct way. Many times we go through Ramadan, but when it finishes we fall back into our old habits and mistakes. Then we begin to lose hope in changing until the next year. Therefore, we have to approach the month with the proper outlook, which is the topic of this reminder. In order to have an illumined ending we must have an illumined beginning.
The other wisdom of Ibn ʿAṭā, which is the first one in his collection and the topic of this reminder is:
“One of the signs of relying on one’s own deeds is the loss of hope when a downfall occurs.”
Sometimes we confuse productivity with spirituality. We fall into the trap of thinking that as long as we do more good deeds our relationship with God will automatically become closer and better. This is not to say that deeds are not needed; surely they are. It is to say that the internal spiritual conditions that accompany those deeds are more important than the deeds themselves. We do the deed and hope that God, in His infinte mercy and grace, will accept the deed. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, once said: “Nobody will be saved by their deeds.” His companions said, “Not even you, O Messenger of God?” He said, “Not even me, unless God envelops me in His grace and mercy.”
The deeds are a means for us to draw closer to our Lord and He should remain our focus throughout. We are seeking His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, support, pardon, and aid. It is through these things that we find blessed success and not through our deeds themselves, they are just a necessary vehicle to bring us to our goal: a deep and profound knowledge of God.
This Ramadan let’s try to focus on the goal more than the actions. The actions will thereafter come naturally and easily. At the end of the month we can test ourselves with the statement of Ibn ʿAṭā and see if we were relying on God or on our deeds. If we relied on Him, our slips will be buffered by a deep knowledge of His mercy and love, such that we will not despair. If we relied on a materialistic consumption of deeds under the guise of religiousity, we will feel despair in the face of our natural mistakes. We will lose our way again, at least for another year.
 This hadith has many different narrations, some of which are in Muslim.