Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
Question: Where I live, there are serious water quality problems, and there have been recent deaths from people drinking or swallowing tap water. If I skip washing mouth and nose in wudu, would my wudu be valid?
Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.
Washing mouth and nose are both emphasized sunnas in ritual ablution (wudu)–not obligatory. As such, your wudu would be valid without them. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah] The obligatory acts of wudu are merely four: washing the entire face, arms upto the elbows, a quarter of the head, and the feet upto the ankles. [ibid.] This is understood from the Divine Command:
“Believers! When you wish to pray, wash your faces; your arms up to your elbows; wipe your heads; and [wash] your feet up to your ankes.” [Qur'an, 5.6]
Avoiding harm–when there is reasonable fear (not just excessive worry)–is more incumbent than performing an otherwise encouraged act, such as washing mouth and nose.
It would be praiseworthy, however, to take a cup of drinkable water, to rinse mouth and nose with. The strong believer takes facilitative means.
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam, Faraz Rabbani
Executive Director, SeekersGuidance & SeekersHub Toronto