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