Does the Qur'an say that shooting stars are a way to scare away the Jinnat from heaven. If so is this abstract or is this literal. How do Muslims in today's scientific age explain this to a non Muslim?
Related verse of Surah Mulk and its English translation follows:
"We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps and We have made them [these lamps] a means of bombardment on the devils." (67:05)
The verse does not mean that stars are pelted rather the obvious implication is the stars are used as the places for bombarding the devils. An analogy would better explain the usage. If, for example, someone says that the post will be made a torrent of bullets for the militants he obviously means that the place would be used to launch an effective assault on them. What kind of bombardment happens is not made known to us. It is possible that certain stars emit peculiar radiations that are dangerous for the devils among the Jinn, who have been created from a form of energy (fire; See 15:27). The Qur'an also informs us that extra measures were taken to guard the contents of the Holy Qur'an from any interpolation by the devils from among the jinn during its revelation period as has been variously referred to in the Holy Qur'an. (See for example: 15:18, 37:10, 72:9)
And we used to sit on places (high) therein to listen. Whoever listens now finds a flame in wait for him. (72:9)
In this and the other similar verses the word Shahab does not necessarily connote meteorites we are acquainted to. The Qur'an simply used the word 'Shahab' in its literal connotation meaning a mass of fire.
Hope this helps.