Setelah dilepaskan dari penjara pada 1952, Malcolm berjumpa dengan Elijah Muhammad di Chicago. Di sinilah dia menerima tanda '''X''', yang bermaksud menolak nama perhambaannya, dan oleh kerana tiada nama Islam Afrika-Amerika.
In [[1953 ]], Malcolm left his half-sister Ella in Boston to stay with Elijah Muhammad in [[Chicago]]. He soon returned to Boston and became the Minister of the Nation of Islam' s Temple Number Eleven.
His active membership in the Nation led to him opening several temples around the country, of which he often became Minister. His rousing, incendiary and inspirational speeches and spotless personal example led to the ranks of the Nation of Islam burgeoning. He was soon seen as the number two man in the movement, next to Elijah Muhammad himself.
As Malcolm worked tirelessly for the Nation of Islam, he was increasingly exposed to rumours of Elijah Muhammad's extra-marital affairs with young secretaries. Adultery is severely shunned in the teachings of the Nation. Although this news unsettled Malcolm, he often brushed it aside. But soon he investigated these allegations and saw that they were true, and they were eventually affirmed by Elijah Muhammad himself, who claimed that it was legitimate for him as he was the messenger of God. Despite being unsatisfied with the excuses, and being disenchanted by other ministers using Nation of Islam funds to line their own pockets, Malcolm's faith in Elijah Muhammad did not waver.
By [], tension in the Nation of Islam grew to a boiling point. Elijah Muhammad was jealous of Malcolm's popularity (as were several other senior ministers). Malcolm watched the [[March on Washington]] critically, unable to understand why black people were excited over a demonstration "run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn't like us when he was alive." Later in the year, following the assassination of President [[John F. Kennedy]], Malcolm delivered a speech as he regularly would. However, when asked to comment upon the asssassination, he replied that it was a case of "chickens coming home to roost" -- that the violence that JFK had failed and at times refused to reign in had come around to claim his life. This comment led to widespread public outcry and led to the Nation of Islam publicly censuring Malcolm X. He was banned from speaking for six months, effectively a suspension order. Malcolm obeyed and kept quiet.
In [], Malcolm started collaborating on the now legendary [[The Autobiography of Malcolm X]] with [[Alex Haley]]. He also publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam, and founded [[Muslim Mosque, Inc.]] At this point, Malcolm still adhered to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. In April, he made the famous Ballot or the Bullet speech.
Malcolm was in contact with several orthodox Muslims, who encouraged him to learn about orthodox [[Islam]]. He soon converted to orthodox [[Islam]], and as a result decided to perform [[Hajj]].