Department Chair:
Cynthia Chapman

Administrative Assistant:
Brenda Hall

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8866
Fax: (440) 775-6910

Rice Hall 316
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Joel Blecher

Joel Blecher

Visiting Instructor

Contact Information


Rice 328
(440) 775-8113

Personal Office Hours:
Mon 4:00-5:00 PM, Tues 9:00-10:00 AM & by appointment

Joel Blecher

Joel Blecher

Educational Background

  • Bachelor of Arts, Swarthmore College, 2004
  • Master of Arts, Princeton University, 2010

Joel Blecher studied at the University of Damascus in 2006-7 and, since then, has undertaken extensive fieldwork and archival research in Arabic and Urdu in traditional Islamic institutions in Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and India.

His current scholarship investigates the politics, culture, and transformation of an Islamic commentary tradition on Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, a compilation of sayings and practices attributed to Muhammad, and a capstone of the Islamic legal curriculum. In his work, he explores themes of orality and literacy; language, ethnicity and contestation over political patronage; and authority and innovation in a conservative textual tradition.

He is concurrently a fellow, in absentia, at the Princeton Institute of International and Regional Studies.


Recent and Upcoming courses:

REL 270      Introduction to Islam: Muslims and Muhammad
REL 272      The Qurʾan and Its Interpreters

REL 374      The Authority of Hadith: Criticism and Commentary