Imam Riḍā (P.B.U.H.) said to one of his companions,
“Verily, Allah has applied some of His Names to some of His servants (creatures) but with a different meaning. One and the same name bears different meanings. The justification for it is the practice of the people themselves, valid according to them and widely prevalent among them. Allah addresses His creatures in the same practice of speech (prevalent among people). He speaks to them in a way which they understand so that they themselves will stand responsible for any loss they suffer (due to not caring to understand).
Allah has named (Himself) with (the Attribute of) Knowledge, but (eternal) not contingent knowledge through which conception of things may be possible or knowledge which may assist Him in guarding what He is going to ordain in future or in planning what He is going to create in His creation (in the present) or in disposing of what He has annihilated from His creation (in the past) or knowledge which, if it is not available to Him and has become hidden from Him, then he will be rendered ignorant and helpless. As we see the learned among the creatures, we call them men of knowledge, because of the contingent which appears in them and of which they were ignorant. And it also often happens that the knowledge of things departs from them and then they relapse into ignorance. However, Allah is called All-knowing in the sense that He is not ignorant of anything at any time (past, present, or future). Thus, the name ‘al-‘Alīm’ is common to both the Creator and the created, but the connotation is quite different (in both the cases), as you saw.
Allah is al-Ẓāhir (the Manifest), not in the sense that He appeared above everything and rode them and settled on them and out-topped them. (So, nothing can hide Him from the right.) However, He is al-Ẓāhir or Manifest and prevails over everything in the sense that He holds all authority, dominion and power over each and everything, just as a person would say, ‘I have prevailed over my enemy and Allah has given me power over him.’ It signifies victory and domination. Such is al-Ẓāhir of Allah over everything. There is another sense of al-Ẓāhir, the Manifest. He is Manifest to everyone who intends to seek Him. He is not hidden to His seekers and nothing is hidden from Him. He is the Disposer of each and everything He has created. Since in whichever direction you turn, His wonderful (creation) cannot remain hidden from you. Even within your own self there are sufficient signs to satisfy you, (but) in our case, the manifest means something which comes into view by itself or is known by its limits and location. Thus here too, the name is common, but the connotation is quite different.
Allah is al-Bāṭin (hidden), hidden not in the sense that He is inside things, or that He has descended deep in them, but in the sense that His knowledge, providence and plan permeate the inside of everything, just as a person says, ‘I have gone deep into the matter in the sense I have experienced it and have fully known all its hidden secrets.’ However, for us ‘hidden’ means the disappearance of a thing inside some other things. Here again we have the name in common, but the connotation is quite different.”1
1- Taken from the book of ‘The Life of Imam ʿAlī Bin Mūsā Al-Riḍā’, by: Bāqir Sharīf al-Qarashi.