Farsi, also sometimes but rarely rendered Parsi, is the ancient language of the Persians, and has been a living language for literally thousands of years. There are more than one hundred million speakers of Farsi world-wide, and it is an official language of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and is also spoken in many other areas of southwest central Asia. There is a large community of Parsees or Parsis in India, in Gugerat and in Mumbai. They fled to India not quite 1500 years ago to escape the Muslim invasion of Persia, because as Zoarastrians, they were treated as pagans by the mad Muslim holy warriors. The invasion of Persia was originally lead by Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, and the founder of Shi'ism. (Farsi is called Farsi and not Parsi because 7th and 8th century Arabic lacked a "P" sound.) Farsi was at one time a prestige language of central Asia, and to speak and write it was a mark of an educated man. Modern day Farsi is rendered with Arabic characters, but is still distinct.