'Persia was the centre of some mighty dynasties over the millennia, including the far-flung Achaemenid Empire that Cyrus the Great established in the 6th century BC. It wasn’t until Muslim Arabs defeated a later Persian dynasty, the Sassanians, in AD 651, that Persians were forced to adopt Islam and abandon their fiery state religion, Zoroastrianism.
'As in all conquests that force cultural change, it wasn’t entirely successful. The Persians bitterly resented their new overlords and pockets of Zoroastrianism remain today, though followers are now estimated at fewer than 190,000 worldwide. Yet it was the Persians, long a highly literate people, who codified Arabic grammar and made the language the cornerstone of classical Islamic culture.' (Introduction)